MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 22: Heather Watson of Great Britain plays a backhand during her Women's Singles first round match against Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic on day three of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 22, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mike Owen/Getty Images)
Tennis | Australian Open 2020 | Watson battles familiar weather to set up another Mertens clash
The conditions at the start of this carried over first round between Heather Watson andKristyna Pliskova were blustery to day the least, and the girl from Guernsey started to feel far more at home than her Czech counterpoint the more the match went on.
The first set was certainly not pretty tennis with very little chance of either player getting any kind of a rhythm and in fact it was more of a war of attrition in the conditions. Watson gave up her first game, but kept her composure to break back, only to lose that advantage as Pliskova seemed just a little more together.
The second set saw a chance pop up for Watson that she could not convert, in a more competitive set as both players seemed to manage the conditions better. With Watson finally getting her breakthrough as the only one to have break points at all in the second set.
From this point, Pliskova just seemed to completely unravel and Watson just grew in confidence breaking the Czech three times in a row to seal a win.
As reported by BBC Sport, the conditions were no bother to Watson, who reached the semi-finals of Hobart last week.
She said: “It was super windy today but I felt prepared because it was like that in Hobart a lot of the days. But being a first-round match and being postponed I felt a bit nervous in that first set and a bit tense.
“I managed to loosen up, relax and enjoy the match. I don’t mind the wind and with the way I play – a lot of slice, drops shots, change-of-pace balls – I think it works well. And I’m patient.”
-Viagogo Tennis Tickets-
Search Viagogo for tennis tickets for upcoming tournaments
Her patience in both matches has been a welcome sight in her recent play, and she will need all of that to try and get back to back wins over the Belgian. They have both gone the distance in Hobart, and even Mertens’ straight sets win have not been complete dominations, so Watson definitely has it in her to take this match all the way and to go toe-to-toe with the No. 16 seed.
Her patience will be key, and she needs to keep her head. What helped her in the first round was adjusting to the conditions but taking the pace off her serve and her ground-strokes and building her shots and she will absolutely need to do the same and settle in for the long-haul against Mertens.
Mertens is very solid from the back of the court and can dictate play effectively off both wings and is perfectly happy coming to the net to finish off her points. In many ways she and Watson have similar all-court capabilities and she has obviously been a lot more consistent over recent months than Watson.
The Brit’s win over her for the first time in four attempts should give her the confidence to know that she can stay with Mertens, and being a confidence player, she should build on her great start to the year.
Prediction: Watson in three sets.
Watson and Mertens are scheduled second on Court 22, not before 12:30pm (1:30am GMT).
We may receive compensation for products purchased via affiliate links on this website
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.