Henry Wancke | 9th Mar 2020 | 0
Acapulco | Watson wins Mexican opener
© Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images
Britain’s Heather Watson overcame Coco Vandeweghe in her Acapulco opener on Monday, defeating the American, 4-6 6-4 6-4.
I'm very pleased with the match today. CoCo is such a great player. She's been a top player for so long, I've known her for so long, and I know how well she can play. Heather Watson
Seeded No 7 Watson battled back from a set down to beat the former Top 10 player in the first round of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC.
It was a tough test for the Brit competing for the first time since playing in the Fed Cup at the start of the month, but she came through after 2 hours and 31 minutes.
After coming from a set behind, Watson had to hold off a furious rally from the American, whose ranking currently sits at No 193 as she works her way back from ankle and foot injuries that forced her to miss the first 3 Grand Slams of the 2019 season.
Trailing 5-2 in the final set, Vandeweghe saved 3 match points, including 2 on her own serve in the set’s 9th game, before ultimately succumbing to defeat in the first-ever meeting between two.
“I’m very pleased with the match today. CoCo is such a great player,” Watson said after the match. “She’s been a top player for so long, I’ve known her for so long, and I know how well she can play.
“If I’m honest, I didn’t feel like I had much rest. From the Australian Open, I had a week at home, but then I went straight to Fed Cup and was there the whole week.
“Fed Cup is a very high-stress environment, and I feel like I’m just about recovered to be here now.”
The British No 2 started to turn the tide in the 2nd set, helped in part by her own tenacity and more erratic tennis from Vandeweghe both off the ground and on serve.
The American missed her lone break point opportunity of the set in the 2nd game, which would’ve seen her open up a 6-4, 2-0 lead, and surrendered serve immediately after, never again earning close to a chance to break in the set.
In her last 4 service games of the second set, Watson surrendered just 2 points on serve, and won the last 8 points in her service games to send the match to a decider.
After both players left the court at the end of the second set, the 27-year-old from Guernsey was the quicker of the two to get her momentum going in the final set, winning 10 of the first 12 points to set the tone.
Despite not converting 2 break chances to lead 3-0, she later earned the insurance break in the 7th game after saving a break point chance against her that would have seen Vandeweghe level the set at 3-3.
Vandeweghe battled with her back against the wall, keeping her main draw debut in Acapulco and held on to force Watson to again serve for the match, which she finally did successfully on her 4th match point.
“She’s been out with injury. She had nothing to lose,” Watson assessed. “I don’t think she’s playing at her best yet, but today was extremely tough. It was tough conditions. It’s hot out there, and the ball really gets up high.
“I was just pleased with how well I fought. I wasn’t necessarily playing my best either, but I stuck in there. I’m just really enjoying being out there, enjoying my tennis.”
Joining Watson in the second round as early winners on Monday afternoon were No 8 seed Nao Hibino and Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova, each of whom enjoyed contrasting passage through to the second round.
Hibino eased past Arantxa Rus, 6-3 6-1, in just over an hour and a half, while Potapova pulled off a stunning comeback from 6-4, 4-0 down to defeat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, 4-6 7-5 6-1.
© (Photo by Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images