SAN JOSÉ, USA – Heather Watson takes on Zheng Saisai in her opening round at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic.
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Heather Watson v Zheng Saisai | Zheng leads H2H 1-0
With the British men having started their Road to New York last week, Heather Watson gets going with her US Open preparation, starting in San José where she faces Zheng Saisai in the first round. It has been a tough year for the girl from Guernsey. By the time we reached May she had not made it past the first round of any event, before she decided to stay on in Japan in an ITF event, winning in Fukuoka, and reaching the Kurume ITF quarter-final the week after.
Outside of ITF events though she has yet to pick up main draw back to back wins at a tour level. Although Zheng is far higher up the rakings, since Rome, she too has struggled for form and her hard-court form over the year is at a pretty unimpressive 5-7 win-loss record.
It has been a while since the pair have met, with Zheng getting a comfortable straight sets win over the Brit in Doha four years ago.
This is an interesting match-up – both move well, and Zheng with her doubles-prowess is very comfortable in coming forward, and from the back of the court, she will flatten out the ball and hit through solidly on her backhand, backing that up with a more topspin forehand, but at times with little pace.
Both players will make a lot of balls but Zheng perhaps doesn’t have any defined weapons and her serve is functional but attackable for good returners. The elements are there for Watson to make inroads – she has added more pep to her serve to try and be more aggressive, but she can switch rapidly from attack to defence as the need arises.
This has the makings of a three setter if Watson is on form, and it would do wonders for her confidence to get the win, but confidence has been in short supply.
Prediction: Zheng in three sets.
Watson & Zheng are scheduled on Stadium Court, not before 12pm (8pm BST).
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