HOBART, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 08: Heather Watson of Great Britain serves during her singles match against Sorana Cirstea of Romania during the 2018 Hobart International at Domain Tennis Centre on January 8, 2018 in Hobart, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Tennis | WTA Tianjin 2019 | Watson stuns Wang, as she reaches first quarter-final since 2018
Despite what looks like a comfortable score-line for British No. 2 Heather Watson over the No. 2 seed and Tianjin-born Wang Qiang, this match was a battle for Watson, who was immediately put on the defensive, saving four break points at the start, before getting her first break in the next game.
Wang was to break after once more facing pressure on her own serve, but found the Watson attacking more to take the advantage again. This time Watson was able to hold the advantage to the end of the set to take the lead.
Watson kept the pressure on breaking Wang three more times in a row to coast into her first quarter-final since reaching the same stage in the WTA International at Quebec City last year.
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With a little confidence behind her now, Watson has a chance to exact a small measure of revenge over the No. 8 seed Magda Linette. They met in qualifying in Beijing last week, where Watson lost in the second round, winning just three games.
Linette is coming in with a lot of confidence, especially in this Asian swing. She started with the quarte-final in Nanchang before reaching the final in Seoul but despite her win over Watson in the final round of qualifying, she fell in the first round of the main draw in Beijing.
Watson certainly has a little more match-time in her legs, with Linette progressing with a retirement in her second round match on Thursday, after going 4-0 up on Kurumi Nara, who beat Harriet Dart in the opening round.
Linette has a lot of confidence right now, winning her maiden title earlier this year at the Bronx Open just before the US Open. Having been in the shadow of Agnieszka Radwanska for so long throughout her career, and now maybe a little overshadowed by Iga Swiatek, the Polish teenager who reached the fourth round of Roland Garros this year, this could well be a tournament for her to shine.
She was able to outplay Watson last week, and the Brit has been putting in the hard yards on the Asian swing, and could yet be rewarded with a spot back in the Top 100 after her run here.
Watson will need to approach the match with the same ability to defend and pick her moments to attack. She showed a good mix of patience and attacking play against Wang, who struggled to get any kind of rhythm and was plagued with leaking errors, especially in the second set. Watson cannot rely on possibly a slightly fresher Linette for the same chance.
It is a tough ask for the Brit, but she certainly has it in her to make a lot more of a challenge than last week in Beijing.
Prediction: Linette in three sets.
Watson & Linette are scheduled third on Centre Court, not before 1:30pm (6:30am BST).
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