In what looks like an upturn in Heather Watson’s fortunes this season, she reached her first quarter-final since the beginning of the season after a couple of straight sets wins in Quebec City. With compatriot Naomi Broady losing in the first round here, Watson is the last British woman standing.
It was a tough first round against the No. 4 seed Monica Niculescu before taking care of Canadian wildcard Leylah Fernandez. It will be another Canadian in front of her when she takes to the court, as the much-respected Rebecca Marino as she continues her comeback this year.
Marino is not just a home favourite but has been much admired for her honesty around taking a break from tennis in 2012 for mental and physical fatigue before taking a longer, indefinite break in 2013 with no defined date for her return.
She has been honest and frank about her struggles with her own mental health and has been open about how she came to terms with that fight, firmly believing that a lot of other athletes struggle with it and find it hard to open up.
Marino was set to return in 2017 but because of ITF administrative regulations, but she started with a bang winning ITF events in Antalya to get her ranking moving again. She has gone from being unranked to sitting just outside the Top 250.
While Watson has been toiling this season, she came into the US Open qualifying with a title at a ITF $100K event in Vancouver and won three rounds of qualifying at the US Open before bowing out in the first round of the main draw.
Her run so far in Quebec City are her first main draw back to back wins since reaching the semi-final in Hobart in the season opener. Marino comes with height, power and range on the court with a hefty weapon in her serve, and potent ground strokes. Watson may have to do her trademark mix of more aggressive play but defending strongly to stay toe to toe with her. On home soil, and very much a fond favourite of the Canadian crowds, Watson is very much the underdog here.
Prediction: Marino in three sets
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