It was a tough ask for British No. 2 Heather Watson to tap into the kind of form we have been more accustomed to seeing from her, especially as the grass season rolls around. Facing Lesia Tsurenko, last seen limping off in pain after just two-and-a-bit games in Roland Garros fourth round.
With a heavily strapped thigh, and the right tactics in the mind of Watson, her start looked to be more solid, but after Tsurenko took an early break advantage, everything became a lot more of a battle for her. She had her chances to break back immediately and eventually was able to level a few games down the line.
Yet the mistakes at the start of the tie-break set the scene for Tsurenko to grab the first se, much to visible signs of frustration from Watson. There were two early chances again to break that went begging, before Tsurenko broke to take the match.
Watson was upbeat still, after a tight match: “I felt like I was playing really well today, but every time it was 30-all or a deuce point, I’d just make the same mistake. It wasn’t that I was doing the same thing wrong every time, but it was ended up, like, just clipping the tape and not going over. I just felt like I had so many small chances today and wasn’t able to take any.
“It was just so frustrating for me. Every time I needed to step up, I didn’t. That first set tiebreak, just really poor tiebreak. Too many mistakes. But at the same time, I have to give her credit. She was just a brick wall in those moments and just stepped her game up.”
Having picked up a few wins now since a rough streak dating back to the start of the season, there is a lot more pep in the step of Watson these days, despite this loss.
“I’ve been playing well for a long time, but I think that I don’t want to be too negative about it because I was really pleased with my fighting spirit, especially with the way I served.
“But I felt like once I start taking those points, a match can change completely the other way. I can see that match going, yeah, just the complete other way in my favour or it can be close like that.”
Watson will be playing doubles with Katie Boulter at the Nature Valley Classic, which continues at 11:30am BST.
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