Wins for Evans and Watson on Day Two of Battle of the Brits
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British No. 1 Dan Evans clinched his first win of the Battle of the Brits Premier League of Tennis while there were also victories for Heather Watson and rising stars Jack Draper and Emma Raducanu in Roehampton.
Evans faced Jan Choinski, who relished being included in the Team Tennis event in the summer, and the German-born Brit gave as good as he got in the first set. Despite Evans getting an early break, Choinski held his nerve and hustled his way through saving three set points and breaking Evans.
It is a measure of the improvement that Evans has made to his game while marching confidently back up the rankings that he responded immediately with a break to love, before going on to take the first set.
Even though the second set, on paper, looked like a trouncing, there was plenty for Evans to ponder as he continues to sharpen up his game ahead of the new season, and Choinski fought until the last ball and should feel he can take some positives from that encounter.
Emma Raducanu may be only 18 but already has an impressive easy power. A brutal first serve, heavy hitting off the ground, and aggressive returning instincts were all at the fore in her first set against Katy Dunne. Once more Dunne seemed to struggle with adjusting to her serve in the first set, as Raducanu dictated play effortlessly to breeze through the first set.
The second set saw the double-fault jitters blight Raducanu’s arm giving Dunne a chance to make more of a chance to get into the match. Six straight breaks of serve came and went before Raducanu steadied the ship and got the crucial break to hold firm for a straight sets win.
The pick of the matches of Court 1 was a match-up between two of the star performers during the domestic restart after the first period of lockdown. Jodie Burrage had a remarkable run of wins during the British Tour, Progress Tour, Battle of the Brits Team Tennis and UK Tour in the summer, while Watson proved to be pivotal in the Team Tennis across singles, doubles, and mixed doubles.
Watson, who looked sharp and match -tight ripped through the first set for the loss of only one game. Burrage was quick to regroup, breaking Watson at the start of the second set, although the British No. 2 broke back immediately.
A break for Watson put her back in the driving seat in this more competitive second set, with a battle royal as Watson saw her chance to clinch the match disappear as she was broken serving for it. Despite a determined resistance, Burrage was broken for Watson to get a second win on the board.
Jack Draper learned every ounce of the word gruelling in a physical encounter with Cameron Norrie. Norrie has a well-rounded big-picture game and while Draper was doing a great job of staying very present with the World No. 71, it was taking its toll on the youngster, but he got his second win, having had a chance to get used to the courts here, and while Norrie was just struggling to find his range, Draper won a tight tussle in the first set tie-break.
Norrie’s experience of grinding out the long matches came into play. Even after a spirited break of Norrie’s serve, the British No. 3 kept calm and broke, and as Draper started to shake out his legs, there was a sense that Norrie would start to turn the screw.
Impressively, Draper stayed toe-to-toe with the more experienced Norrie, to force a second set tie-break, and gave every ounce to draw uncharacteristic errors from Norrie to claim the match and plenty of positives to take from a top 100 scalp.
Liam Broady again kept the family flag flying with a great comeback against James Ward. Coming from a set down, he stormed through the second set tie-break before coming through a tense match-tie-break to pick up a second win. Sadly, for big sister Naomi, she struggled to impose any of her big hitting game on Beth Grey.
At the start of the day there were wins also for Eden Silva and Aidan McHugh.