Wimbledon | Watson wins as Badosa and Kvitova also advance to Last 32

British No 4 Heather Watson got the job done after just 8 minutes of play on Thursday, reaching the 3rd-round of The Championships at Wimbledon for the first time in 5 years with a straight sets victory over China’s Wang Qiang, while Paula Badosa and Petra Kvitova both came through their respective matches to face each other next.

In the end I did. I don't know how. Probably my serve helped me for the set point over there. Yeah, I made it. I'm still very exhausted. I'm just glad that it's done, for sure! Petra Kvitova

Watson’s 2nd-round match was suspended on Wednesday night due to bad light after she had been broken while trying to serve for the match but, returning on Thursday afternoon to Court 18, she scored the win at her 3rd chance to win through, 7-5 6-4.

It has been match-day for Watson every day after her opener was held over from Monday to Tuesday when she was leading 7-5, 5-4 overnight on No 1 Court.

Now, with a meeting on Friday against Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan next, the 30-year-old will be able to say she has played over the first 5 days of Wimbledon during her impressive charge into the Last 32.

Juvan, 21, caused a shock in round 1 as she knocked out 23rd seed Beatriz Haddad Maia from Brazil, one of the most in-form players on the grass court swing, and winner of two back-to-back grass titles at Nottingham and Birmingham.

Watson, a former British No 1, will now try to achieve her best ever performance in a Grand Slam singles tournament, having lost her previous five 3rd-round matches, four coming at Wimbledon and the other at the Australian Open.

Paula Badosa (R) beat Irina Bara in straight sets at Wimbledon, and faces Petra Kvitova next

© Glyn Kirk/AFP via Getty Images

Meanwhile, two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova and 4th-seeded Badosa will meet in the Last 32 after straight-sets wins over Romanians Ana Bogdan and Irina Bara respectively, the two having played once before, with the Czech winning 7-5 7-5 in the second round of the 2020 Australian Open.

Badosa, who lost her Eastbourne opening match to Britain’s Jodie Burrage last week, recovered to book her place in the 3rd-round of Wimbledon for the second year in a row.

The 24-year-old Spaniard has reached at least this stage at 5 of the past 6 majors, having beaten Bara, 6-3 6-2, in a match where the scoreline belied the toughness of the challenge the Romanian posed at times.

The Romanian, ranked 122, was making her Wimbledon debut, and engaged Badosa in several bruising rallies, wowing the No 2 Court crowd with her deft touch on the drop-shot and stellar reflexes at the net.

These attempts to prevent the Spaniard from overpowering her, though, often resulted in over-hitting, with 23 unforced errors outweighing her 14 winners, and the drop-shots that worked were negated by too many that sat up for Badosa to easily swat away.

The Spaniard’s serve proved to be a formidable weapon, and although she did drop her a service game just the once, midway through the first set, she conceded only 2 points behind her first delivery overall.

After tight passages of play at the start and middle of both sets, Badosa was able to assert her authority in closing both out.

Bara held a point to level the second set at 3-3, but Badosa denied her with an emphatic drive volley, proceeded to capture the break and swept up 15 of the last 18 points of the match, converting on her first match point with a second serve ace.

Petra Kvitova was cruising before being pegged back by Ana Bogdan and lucky to win in 2 sets

© Julian Finney/Getty Images

Her next opponent, Kvitova, a former World No 2, was in dazzling form as she swept to a 6-1, 5-1 lead and then was lucky to escape a late surge from Bogdan before gutsy-ing out the win, 6-1 7-6(5).

Consecutive return winners scored the first break of the Bogdan serve for 2-0, and there was barely a let-up for the next hour as the Czech left-hander rained down rapid-fire winners on the Romanian.

There were signs, though, from the end of the first set, that Bogdan was beginning to find a way to pose a threat.

Serving for the opener, Kvitova saved 4 break points before converting on her 3rd, and then needed to come through 6 deuces to hold for 3-1 in the second set.

Losing that marathon game seemed to settle Bogdan, whose gritty fight paid off as she put together a run of 5 games of her own from 5-1 down to lead 6-5.

Kvitova was unable to serve out the match twice, squandering a match point at 5-4 with a netted slice before Bogdan levelled at 5-5 with a spectacular return winner of her own.

Kvitova needed to find something special and, serving at 5-6, she staved off 2 set points, one with an ace and the next with a one-two punch, and then edged matters into the ensuing tiebreak.

After 1 hour and 45 minutes, Kvitova finished with 40 winners, including 10 aces, to 24 unforced errors, while  Bogdan ultimately tallied 18 winners and only 7 unforced errors.

“My thoughts? It’s mixed,” she said. “I think it was great match from the beginning until 5-1, 5-2.

“Suddenly I felt, like, so exhausted, from the games I had. I don’t know, it was just tough to describe. I got a little bit tighter and she just went for it a little bit more. She didn’t miss. It was really tough to close it out.

“I really thought that, probably, would be third set, that I didn’t even make it for the tiebreak.

“In the end I did. I don’t know how. Probably my serve helped me for the set point over there. Yeah, I made it. I’m still very exhausted. I’m just glad that it’s done, for sure!”

Until winning Eastbourne last week, 2022 has been a difficult year for Kvitova who, in 11 of her first 13 tournaments, could not win back-to-back matches.

That 5th career grass-court title came just in time and although Bogdan stretched the 31-year-old in the cool conditions on No 3 Court, the win takes Kvitova’s current success run to 7 matches.

Alize Cornet got past Claire Liu to advance to round 3 on Thursday

© Sebastien Bozon/AFP via Getty Images

In other early matches, Alizé Cornet and Alja Tomljanovic each returned to the 3rd-round with wins over  2 Americans, Claire Liu and Catherine Harrison respectively, both in straight sets.

The year in which Alizé Cornet is aiming to seal the all-time record for consecutive Grand Slam main draw appearances is also proving to be her finest on the major stage.

The Frenchwoman, who is now tied with Japan’s Ai Sugiyama on 62 appearances, reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open in January, and returned to the 3rd-round of Wimbledon for the first time since 2016 with her 6-3 6-3 defeat of Liu.

The result means that this is the first season of 32-year-old Cornet’s career in which she has reached the last 32 of each of the first 3 Grand Slams.

Tomljanovic, who made her first major quarter-final at Wimbledon last year, booked her place in her second straight 3rd round with a 6-2 6-2 win over qualifier Harrison, a result that puts the Australian into the 3rd round of a major for the 4th time in her career.



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