What a difference, in almost everything. Watson’s previous two rounds were in the category of demolition jobs, as she blasted past Petra Cetkovska and Sloane Stephens for the loss of just four games.
Wickmayer, though, has a game that has troubled Watson in their history, although two of their previous meetings were three setters. Wickmayer wasted no time in jumping out to a 3-0 lead, but Watson kept calm to get the break back.
From that point on though there was a flurry of breaks with four in a row before Wickmayer got in a decisive serve to take the first set.
The break-trading continued at the start of the second with another four breaks of serve before the pair settled down for a good old fashioned tussle, with Watson staving off five break points at the latter end of the set before breaking the Belgian to level the match.
In brutal weather conditions, the third set was a lot more competitive with both holding their own, before Watson struck again at the end of the set with a break, serving out the match and making it past the third round for the first time in her career.
After what can best be described as a rocky start to the year for the Romanian, she is rounding into some decent form now. Pulling out of Brisbane with an Achilles tendon injury and then reportedly taking time out for an operation required for a deviated septum, Halep put all that off, got over the Achilles injury, took a few antibiotics, and under the tutelage of Darren Cahill she really seems to have come alive again.
She was in impressive form on the way to her quarter-final with Serena Williams at Indian Wells, where she was defending the title, but seemed to have run out of steam by the end, tightening up in her arm.
She has yet to drop a set here in Miami, as she benefited from a bye, although she did have some spirted resistance in her opener against Daria Kasatkina, and a slightly easier job in the end against Julia Goerges.
We can look forward to some scrambling around the court – while she is described as an aggressive baseliner, Halep serves well for her height and is decent off both wings, but Watson came in well on Saturday against Wickmayer, and came up with some pretty devastating drop shots – Halep’s speed will be put to the test.
Halep starts obviously as the favourite, but Watson can more that push her to three sets – indeed she took the first set off her at the US Open when they first met in 2013.
Prediction: Halep in three sets.
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