Faces winner of Varvara Lepchenko and 16th seed Elise Mertens which was suspended for rain
PARIS, FRANCE – Heather Watson showed signs of the form that took her to a career high of No. 38 in the world, as she recovered from a shaky start to beat Oceane Dodin.
Heather Watson def. Oceane Dodin 6-3 6-0
It was a clean sweep for Brits on Day 2 of the French open as Heather Watson joined Cameron Norrie in the second round. Watson was facing home crowd favourite Oceane Dodin, who started confidently with a break. Watson steadied the ship getting on the board before breaking back.
From that point, Watson’s variety and defensive patience draw errors from the French-woman as she broke at the end of the set, serving out to love. That momentum stayed with the girl from Guernsey as she broke Dodin with ease. In fact, her hardest job was to close out the match, losing triple match point, saving four break points in total and finally getting over the line on her fifth match point.
Watson said, after the match: “I knew she’s sort of an all or nothing payer and she was going to hit the ball as hard as she could. That’s how she plays. So I knew that I’d just have to accept that she’s going to hit some winners and try my best to get as many balls in play but also when I do have the chance to step in and play aggressive tennis, i think I did that really well today.”
While many might think this is the springboard for a more confident stride through the end of the clay court season, Watson’s win against Kateryna Bondarenko was the key.
She continued: “My match against Bondarenko, that was a really big one for me . I was just so pleased after that to have gotten through it, just because there’d been like this los[ing] streak which I hadn’t even though of until everybody starts writing about it. By everybody I mean you guys (laughing).
“That starts to play on my mind when I wasn’t even thinking about that before. Because there’s always ups and downs in tennis, and that was the main one for me. It was different today. I felt very confident.”
Much like Konta, Watson’s form has been a variable over the past few months, and she admitted that not many outlets will pay attention to the wins. The outside pressure will only intensify as the turnaround between the clay and the grass is very short.
“If you have a mobile you can’t really escape it. I wish I could. But I think what’s important is the pressure I put on myself. It’s just managing that and trying rally hard not to listen to outside, because it’s usually more negative than positive anyway.
“Most people will write about when you – they’ll speak up when you lose and not much to say when you win. They’ll count the losing streaks but not the winning streaks. So it’s just best to ignore it.”
Watson was fortunate to get finished as the rain was coming down a lot heavier in the final game, and her possible opponents, either 16th seed Elise Mertens or Varvara Lepchenko, were into a decider when the matches were suspended. Mertens, who beat Watson in the semi-final in Hobart at the start of the season.
“Whoever I play out of those two, I find them pretty even, with how I’d feel going in. No match is easy here so whoever I play, I’m going to have to play well again.”
Play continues at Roland Garros Day Three at 11am (10am BST).
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