British No 6 Heather Watson reached the quarter-finals of the Rothesay Open in Nottingham after defeating her former doubles partner Tatjana Maria in straight sets, but top seed Maria Sakkari was no match for Alizé Corner and fell in the 2nd-round alongside others seeds, Donna Vekic and Zhu Lin.
I came through qualifying and I feel, like, each match, I'm getting better, but I feel, like, there is more to come. I really look forward to the next match. Heather Watson
31-year-old Watson, a former British No 1, wrapped up a 6-4 6-4 win over Germany’s Maria in an hour 24 minutes, showing her prowess on the grass courts at the Nottingham University Tennis Centre.
“Tatjana is my best friend on tour, we have played doubles together and spent a lot of time together,” Watson said. “It’s never easy to play a friend but, at the same time, it’s really special sharing a court with her.”
Watson clinched a single crucial break in each set to wrap up the win against the German, with whom she reached the Last 8 in doubles at Wimbledon in 2018.
Prior to play on Wednesday a minute’s silence was held on Centre Court in memory of the 3 people who were killed in attacks in the city early on Tuesday morning.
It was a notable win for Watson against a player who now is ranked 129 places higher in the world standings, as she aims to emulate last year’s grass-court success that included a run to the 4th-round at Wimbledon.
Watson, who next plays World No 99 Viktorija Golubic from Switzerland, said in her on court interview: “It was so fun to play here today. I love playing here in Nottingham, especially this year when the weather is so great.
“I came through qualifying and I feel, like, each match, I’m getting better, but I feel, like, there is more to come. I really look forward to the next match.”
It was Watson’s 4th win at the Rothesay Open, having come through qualifiers with strong wins against Sophie Chang and Amelia Rajecki, before avenging her 4th-round Wimbledon loss against Jule Niemeier, with a 6-4 6-3 victory in the 1st-round, while she has yet to lose a set across this visit.
Her next opponent is a familiar face in that Watson and Golubic have faced each other twice at Nottingham on the grass, with one win apiece, with their most recent match coming last year when the Swiss won 7-5 6-2.
On Thursday are 3 more British women contending for a spot in the Last 8, with Katie Boulter, Jodie Burrage and Harriet Dart all in action on Centre Court.
Boulter opens the action against lucky loser Daria Snigur from Ukraine, who knocked out the No 2 seed and defending champion, Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia, in the opening round, while Dart faces 5th seed Anhelina Kalinina, also from Ukraine, before Boulter takes on 3rd-seeded Magda Linette of Poland.
Following Haddad Maia out of Nottingham was Sakkari, the World No 8 from Greece, who faced Cornet, a tricky Frenchwoman who relishes the grass court season and handily beat her, 6-1 6-4.
It was the 25th career win against a Top 10 opponent for 33-year old Cornet, who converted 4 of a whopping 13 break chances in the 88-minute match.
Just like she did last year, Sakkari opted to start her grass campaign in Nottingham, and, again she found herself exiting early as the Greek continues to struggle with her form.
She started well enough, with a solid performance in the 1st-round, taking out another tricky opponent in China’s Wang Xiyu in straight sets in a much-needed win following her early exit at Roland Garros.
Facing giant killer Cornet, though, who makes a habit of beating top players, proved a step too far as Sakkari could not find the court well enough to hit through the Frenchwoman.
Cornet defended convincingly when she needed to, and was way more consistent and canny as she raced out to a 5-0 lead.
Sakkari narrowly avoided the bagel, and, when the second set opened with another early break for Cornet, prospects looked grim for the Greek, but she started to play better and even had a chance to break back when she was up 40-0 on Cornet’s serve, but she squandered those chances.
Cornet went up 4-1 but Sakkari did manage to pull one of those breaks back, and while there was a hint of a come-back, the Frenchwoman held on for the win, despite going down 0-30 in the final game.
Vekic, the 2017 Nottingham champion from Croatia and seeded 4, also went out in the 2nd-round, losing to Golubic, 6-4 6-1, while Zhu, the 8th seed from China, lost 6-2 6-4 to Poland’s Magdalena Frech.