Heather Watson on the third day of the 2020 Battle of the Brits Premier League of Tennis, London, UK
Heather Watson on the third day of the 2020 Battle of the Brits Premier League of Tennis, London, UK | (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images for LTA)

Tennis | WTA Birmingham 2021 | Watson bids to reach quarter-final for first time

  • Heather Watson def. Viktorija Golubic 3-6 6-2 6-2
  • Watson v Zhang Shuai [6]
BIRMINGHAM, UK – Heather Watson is the last Brit standing, and she takes on Zhang Shuai, last week’s finalist in Nottingham.


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Heather Watson def. Viktorija Golubic 3-6 6-2 6-2

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Hopefully it is the time of year when inspiring British performances inspire similar across the board, as Heather Watson continues to look for confidence in match-play and wins.

It started better for the Swiss Viktorija Golubic, who broke before the first change f ends, and although Watson was able to peg it back, she was broken again twice more for Golubic to take the first set.

Watson did not panic and immediately started the second set with a 3-0 lead. Golubic got one of the breaks back, but Watson was able to come through a long game and make good on a fourth break point to put herself in the driving seat, serving out the second set to love.

Watson broke again at the start of the decider, and once more to build up a double-break cushion. She could not break for the match, but advanced on her third match point.


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Watson v Zhang Shuai [6]

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H2H & Match Fundamentals

Heather Watson v Zhang Shuai [6] H2H: Zhang leads 3-1 (incl. ITF)
Viking Classic Birmingham, UK
Grass (O) Prize Money: $3,675
Fourth on Ann Jones Court, not before 3:30pm BBC Sport


Neither Watson nor Zhang Shuai have had the best of seasons with Zhang having won only one match until she reached the final of the Viking Open in Nottingham last week.


Tale of the Tape – Key Stats (2021 – Grass)

H2H: Heather Watson (WR 70) Zhang Shuai (WR 36)
Tournament Previous Best R16 (2011-12, 2016) SF (2014)
1st Serve Return Points Won % 35.8 41.9
Return Points Won % 43.0 47.2
Break Point Conversion % 44.8 40.7
Break Points Saved % 65.5 57.9
Total Points Won % 51.1 53.4

When it comes to saving break points and converting them Watson holds the higher ground, despite having played less on the grass, but Zhang’s return game percentages are a danger area for Watson who really needs to be a lot more attacking where she can.


Playing Styles & Prediction

Watson has, over the years, added a lot more aggressive play and pep on her serve to complement her usual defensive game, and on this surface, she can excel in moving her opponents all around the court.

Zhang can do a little bit of everything well and prefers to stay at the baseline, hitting well off both wings. Watson has the agility and net skills, and a complete game is the key here, but arguably Zhang has a little more match-tightness in her.

Prediction: Watson in three sets.



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