Watson Back From The Brink Down Under
Published January 16, 2013 12:00
MELBOURNE, Australia - Staring down triple match point in the second set tie-break it's as though she just couldn't miss anymore, that she just wouldn't budge. Keeping her groundstrokes deep under pressure and her wheels making sure nothing got past her, Heather Watson fought all of those match points off against Ksenia Pervak and moved through to the third round of the Australian Open.
Pervak had a great Aussie Open lead-up, highlighted by a couple of firsts in Brisbane - her first Top 10 win over Caroline Wozniacki, and eventually her first Premier-level quarterfinal. And in her opener in Melbourne she pulled off the only upset of Day 1, beating No.32 seed and Hobart finalist Mona Barthel.
The Kazakh nearly won again but Watson was just too solid, fighting off all three of those match points after long rallies, and then grabbing control in the third set - the Brit triumphed, 46 76(7) 62.
"It was tough," Watson said. "I didn't start great. I didn't think I was coping well with the wind and I couldn't find my serve - I didn't feel like I could hit the ball because I thought I would miss.
"And then second set I thought, 'Just stick in there; keep fighting.' It was 5-4 and I had a few set points, and I was just exhausted. So tired. I think because I was tense throughout the match that I was using up all my energy. In that game, I think I was the most exhausted I was during the whole match.
"I didn't have a great tie-break. 6-3 down. So I thought, 'You know what? She's going to have to win it; I'm not going to give it away.' So I just made sure I made every single ball, and then suddenly it was my set point. I'm able to take that set. I mean, the crowd was just unbelievable. They really helped today.
"In the third I started cramping again, so I had to just hit the ball because I couldn't stay in the long rallies. You know, I don't know why I didn't just start hitting the ball in the beginning."
Watson hugged her supporters after the match. "They were awesome throughout the whole match. I mean, it's easy to support someone when they're winning, but when they're losing it's not as easy. But they were just non-stop from beginning to end supporting me. It was unbelievable being out there."
Watson is now through to the third round of a Grand Slam for the second time, the first time coming at Wimbledon last year, where she lost to Agnieszka Radwanska - and the World No.4 is up next again.
"She's a very different player to most of the girls," Watson said. "She's consistent and has great feet, so it's going to be another physical match. I've played her before, so I've got that feeling. I think the first time I played her I just went guns blazing, didn't know what to do - just went for way too much.
"This time I'm coming in a different player, and I'm going to approach it differently."
Watson expanded on her feelings about that Wimbledon loss. "That killed me. I was so upset. I was playing at home in front of everyone and just got wiped off the court. That wasn't a great experience."