Watson shows maturity to reach 2nd round in Portugal
Heather Watson's fine start to the week continued at the Estoril Open on Tuesday as she advanced to the second round with a straight-sets win over Lucie Hradecka.
World No. 115 Watson beat an opponent ranked 32 places higher than her in Monday's qualifier to enter the main draw, and 24 hours later she took another scalp against world No. 98 Hradecka. Breaking on five occasions, Watson scored a 6-4 6-4 win to progress deeper into the competition in Portugal.
Crucial to Watson's success was her serve which, just as it did in her qualifier, functioned with plenty of accuracy. The Brit operated at a 75 per cent first-serve success rate, and the importance of that statistic was underlined by the fact she won only seven points when forced onto her second serve.
Hradecka, by contrast, failed with over half of her first deliveries, which allowed Watson to constantly build pressure on the Czech. Five breaks were exchanged in the first set, three to the British No. 3 as she moved ahead 6-4.
Watson had been helped by six double-faults in that set, but she needed no such fortune in the second as she increased her intensity. Hradecka began to play much better, limiting her rival to just two break points in the set, but Watson took both to close out the win.
She will now face another Czech in fourth seed Petra Cetkovska, who beat Alexandra Panova 6-2 6-1.
Watson is now the only Brit still standing in the competition after Elena Baltacha lost 7-6(6) 6-1 to Maria Kirilenko. The British No. 1, ranked 63 in the world, was always the underdog against the world No. 19 but she gave Kirilenko a real scare in the first set.
Baltacha broke three times to force her rival to a tiebreaker, which she eventually lost 8-6 in a set that easily could have gone her way. Kirilenko then began to show her superiority in the second, breaking three times to none as Baltacha bowed out in an hour and 42 minutes.
Elsewhere, third seed Anabel Medina Garrigues saw off Kristina Barrois 6-4 6-1, while Polona Hercog overcame Tamira Paszek 6-0 6-3.