Watson loses epic as Svitolina, Andreescu and Swiatek reach second round
• 4 MINUTE READ
In the match of the day, World No.9 and 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek defeated Britain’s Heather Watson 6-3, 6-7 (4), 7-5 in two hours and 44 minutes.
The former junior Wimbledon champion came from a double break down at 4-1 in the final set to win five of the next six games to claim her first main draw win on grass.
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Both players started brightly, but it was the fourth seed who would take the first blow late in the opening set. The windy conditions made it difficult for the players on serve and Watson hit three double faults in the eighth game to gift her opponent an easy break and with that, the set.
Watson – who has shown excellent form on the grass this year, reaching the semi-finals at the Viking Classic Birmingham last week – took her game to a new level in the second set.
In the most hotly contested period of the match, there was barely anything to separate the pair, before an early advantage for Watson in the tie-break, gave her the edge she needed to level the scores.
Visibly energised and with the home crowd behind her, the British No.2 looked like she had the match wrapped up in the third with some scintillating tennis from all around the court. But the 19-year-old picked herself up and showed her mental strength to bring it back to 5-5.
Watson couldn’t capitalise on a break point opportunity in the following game and Swiatek wasted no time to sealing her spot in the second round.
“My legs are going to be sore tomorrow that’s for sure” Swiatek said.
“I have a bit of a love hate relationship with grass so winning every match is going to give me confidence, especially against such an experienced player.
“I was proud that I was fighting until the end - it’s amazing for me because it’s my first main draw win on grass. Playing here against a girl from Great Britain, Heather Watson, is pretty hard so I’m just happy that I was here mentally until the end.”
Liam Broady picked up the second best win of his career after defeating World No.56 Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 7-6 (4).
Broady put on an absolute masterclass on the Eastbourne Centre Court to set up a second round clash with Australia’s Alex De Minaur.
Tiafoe – who recently won the ATP Challenger in Nottingham and reached the quarter-finals at the cinch Championships last week – couldn’t find a way past the Brit, who showed fantastic speed around the court to nullify the American’s heavy groundstrokes.
Broady broke Tiafoe three times in the opening set and eventually clinched the win in the second set tie-break, having saved six break points.
“Frances is red hot at the moment reaching the quarter-finals at Queen’s and winning the Challenger in Nottingham so I knew it was going to be tough.
“I felt great today and great in practice leading up to it. I’ve maybe not won as many matches as I would have liked to recently so this is a big one for me.”
British No.3 Harriet Dart bowed out against World No.21 Elena Rybakina 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-4 in a highly entertaining encounter to start the day.
In a gutsy performance, the Brit saved 16 break points in the match and fought hard against Rybakina, who sits 120 places higher in the rankings.
With a potential upset on the cards after Dart won the second set tie-break, the French Open quarter-finalist kept her cool in.
In the shock result of the day, two-time Viking International Eastbourne champion Karolina Pliskova was defeated by Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi, 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Pliskova got off to a strong start in the match, but Giorgi – who reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon in 2018 – came back fighting. She got off to a quick start in the second set, breaking Pliskova for the first time in the opening game and never looked back as she went on to claim the victory in an hour and 40 minutes.
Second and third seeds Elina Svitolina and Bianca Andreescu came through three-set clashes to keep their title hopes alive. Svitolina came from a set behind to beat Paula Badosa 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (1), while Andreescu defeated Christina McHale 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.
British wildcards Jay Clarke, James Ward and Alastair Gray both bowed out in straight set opening round defeats.