Having lost to Magda Linette just last tournament out in Beijing, there was a chance for Heather Watson to exact some revenge from the in-form Pole. It was hard work though, as a frustrated Watson found herself 1-4 down after two straight breaks. She brought about a flurry of breaks as she managed to get to 3-5 before reeling off five games on the bounce to take the first set.
The second set was as edgy at times, with the pair trading breaks twice, as Watson squandered a match point before they got themselves to a tie-break. Watson relinquished a couple of mini-breaks, which was enough for Linette to get a foot-hold back in the match.
Linette was the first to strike in the decider and in almost identical position, Watson began to work her back into the match from 1-4 down. The turning point had to be Watson saving four match points to level the match at 5-5 as the match quite aptly came to be decided on a tie-break.
It was a nervy affair, with the first five points all being mini-breaks before Watson was the first to hold. It took another two match points with a flutter of breaks for both, before Watson advanced to a first semi-final since Quebec City last year.
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Playing someone for the first time can present new challenges, as she faces Veronika Kudermetova in the semi-final. To add to Watson’s defence and attack capabilities, she will also have to suss a new player out. It was at times a quite frustrating time out on court on Friday for Watson who berated herself a lot as Linette took an early advantage.
She can expect Kudermetova to try and take time away from Watson, taking the ball on the rise and generate pace off both sides. Her serve is not the capable and will look to try and build her points and pick up the pace rather than focussing on where she can get free points.
Watson has every chance of reaching a final, but she will need to find a consistent streak, and not have a drop off after playing two matches she was conceivably expected to lose.
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