The last time Heather Watson was in the second round was back in 2016, and came through a taught three setter to get there once more. Watson so often is on the wrong end of tight matches, and after being broken immediately in the first game, she pushed Arantxa Rusin a long game to level back up at 2-2. From there she stayed toe-to-toe with her, forcing a tie-break.
Watson lost a brief mini-break advantage and lost both her next serves. Although she got one of the mini-breaks back, Rus served out for the first set.
It looked as through Rus was going to run away with it, having jumped out to a 4-1 lead, but Watson mounted a determined fightback winning six out of the next seven games to level the match.
The third set was a more nervy affair with momentum swinging from side to side with the pair swapping breaks before Watson served out for the match.
The stats are surprisingly close, given Watson’s erratic run through the season so far, and she will look to capitalise on her returns and converting her break point chances. However Elina Svitolinahas been far more effective at getting herself out of trouble.
Svitolina found herself stunned by the more aggressive game of Watson’s compatriot Harriet Dart in Indian Wells, and will be keen not to fall to another Brit. While Watson has worked hard on increasing her aggressive play, her ability to switch from that style to being more defensive might be key here. Svitolina is consistent from the baseline, and can move well around the court, hitting accurately on the run.
Watson can be a lot handier at the net, so if she can draw her in, she can make this a decent battle.
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