12 - 20 June 2021

Viking Classic Birmingham

Edgbaston Priory Club, Birmingham

Local time

Viking Classic Birmingham 2021: Watson leads British charge on day one

  • 14/06/2021

  • Viking Classic Birmingham

Heather Watson recovered from a set down to beat Viktorija Golubic 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the opening round of the Viking Classic Birmingham at Edgbaston Priory Club.

The British No.2, who reached the last 16 of the Viking Open Nottingham before losing to fellow Brit Katie Boulter, was forced to work hard against Switzerland’s Golubic but eventually her class shone through against the World No. 71.

In a game full of chances for both players it was Watson who took advantage claiming six of the 17 break points on offer to her as she secured her fifth victory on the WTA Tour this season.

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“It was a really good match for me today,” Watson said. “Viktorija’s really tough to play. We’re the same age; I’ve known her for years and years, we’ve come up through our tennis careers together and she’s got a great game for grass so it was very tricky.

“We played doubles together last week and we’ve been practicing together. We were supposed to practice together and we had to text each other yesterday to say that we play each other so maybe not!

“I’m really happy to get through that. I was a little bit nervous at the end there closing it out but as expected I’m just really glad I held my nerve and came up with some of my biggest serves there.

“It’s just been so great to play in front of a crowd again. Thanks for everyone who came out here and supported us. It was great and I think that’s what got me through that match in the end.”

Watson will play China's Zhang Shuai, who lost the Viking Open Nottingham to Johanna Konta on Sunday, or Russian qualifier Vitalia Diatchenko in round two.

British No.3 Harriet Dart put in a spirited performance against French former World No.4 Caroline Garcia before losing 7-5, 4-6, 6-4.

Dart lost a tight first set despite having a set point and serving for a 1-0 lead a game later, but fought back to win the second.

Garcia raced into a 5-1 lead in the third set and served out the match at the second attempt to hold off Dart's fightback.

Elsewhere Fran Jones was beaten in straight sets by the No.3 seed Donna Vekic, who overcame the Brit 6-1, 6-3 in their first round match.