Mixed fortunes on Day 3 at the Australian Open for the remaining two Brits hoping to make an impact in Melbourne.
Heather Watson, playing her postponed opening round and with a new found confidence having made the final at Hobart last week, she recovered to dispatch Krystina Pliskova 4-6 6-3 6-1.
Being the first-round match and it being postponed, I felt a bit nervous on court in the first set and was a bit tense Heather Watson
In contrast Dan Evans, having successfully negotiated his way into the second round last Monday, couldn’t raise his game against Yoshihito Nishioka, crashing out in straight sets.
The windy conditions which prevailed during the Watson match, didn’t worry the Brit but did her opponent, the lefthanded identical twin sister to the world No.2 Karolina Pliskova, who eneded up struggling the most.
The fact that Watson was on from didn’t help the Czech’s case though she did secure the opening set forcing the former British No.1 to regroup.
She hit back and levelled with by pocketing the second with a flourish, an ace, and then dominated the decider.
“Being the first-round match and it being postponed, I felt a bit nervous on court in the first set and was a bit tense,” Watson admitted.
“But after that I managed to loosen up and relax and start enjoying it and I thought my game improved more and more as the match went on.
“I don’t mind the wind at all. I like it and the way I play – slice, drop shots, and change of pace balls – I think it works well in the wind, and I’m patient.”
She now faces the 16th seed Elise Mertens who she beat in Tasmania on her way to the Hobart final.
The British number two added: “She’s a great player and tough competitor and very solid so it will be a tough match.
“I think coming in it will give me confidence for sure to know that I can beat her, especially if it gets close in those tight moments.”
But there was disappointment for all British supporters at the Evans result
The British number one was never in the match as his Japanese opponent was more consistent throughout the match to win 6-4 6-3 6-4 and move on to a third round meeting with the second seeded Novak Djokovic.
Evans revealed later that he hadn’t really looked forward to playing Nishioka, declaring: “I knew it would be difficult. In all honesty, I didn’t want him to win (his opening round) against (Laslo) Djere.
“When it was windy like that, I knew exactly how he would play and I couldn’t break him. I didn’t play great, but all credit to him, he played pretty good.
“Some days you look forward to matches and I didn’t look forward to it. I just find him overly awkward. He made it literally as awkward as possible.”
Despite those revelation he assured everyone that he had given his utmost throughout the contest, adding: “I still walk on the court thinking I can win the match.
“He just makes it difficult for me, I don’t like playing him. You know how you feel in yourself as well, it’s going to be a tough day, but put it on the court and I did that – and it wasn’t good enough.”
Despite his loss Evans can be proud of his start to the year following his excellent win at the ATP Cup lifting him a career high ranking of 32 and being seeded 30 at a grand slam for the first time in his career.
“It was great to be there, part of that (ATP Cup) tournament, and then the grand slams are always good. I love coming to Melbourne. I’ve enjoyed it. It was a difficult day.
“But I’ve got to look back at a lot of points and good moves up the rankings.”