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Watson Wins Birmingham Opener

Heather Watson scored her first win since returning to the tour, but not all the favorites had a good day Tuesday, with Alison Riske and Donna Vekic springing upsets. Who did they beat?

Published June 11, 2013 12:00

Watson Wins Birmingham Opener
Heather Watson

BIRMINGHAM, England - Heather Watson got her first win since returning from mono at the Aegon Classic on Tuesday, beating Melinda Czink in the first round of the first grass court event of the year.

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Watson was out for over two months between March and May with mononucleosis, returning at the French Open two weeks ago but falling first round. But that wasn't the case this time as the No.14-seeded Brit snuck out to a 64 53 lead and, after Czink put up late resistance, closed it out, 64 76(0).

"It wasn't great that I let go of the break in the second set, but I kept it together and played a good tie-break, so I'm not really thinking too much about it," Watson said afterwards. "I think I was seeing the finish line rather than just thinking about the next point. But I'm happy I ended up closing it out."

Watson was also asked what kind of training she had been doing over the last several weeks.

"After Roland Garros I had one day off, and I was training every day until I had a day off this past Saturday," she said. "The first couple of days were very physical, and then we gradually made those sessions shorter and shorter and prepared more for the grass courts. I've been working very hard.

"After winning today it motivates me more for the future. When I was out of the game I was thinking about how I wanted to be back, but you never really realize how much until you're actually back."

And Watson shot a question back at reporters, too.

"I can't even remember the last time I won a match - do you know?" she said, upon which she was told it was her first since beating Andrea Hlavackova in the second round of Memphis - in February.

"Oh no... so yeah, good feeling today!"

Watson was one of eight winners as the first round wrapped up, with No.9 seed Yanina Wickmayer, No.12 seed Kristina Mladenovic and No.15 seed Francesca Schiavone also moving on. Schiavone had the toughest win of them all, rallying from 4-2 down in the third to beat Anna Tatishvili, 26 63 76(3).

The first four second round matches also took the court, with American qualifier Alison Riske pulling off the first big upset of the week, taking out No.4 seed Tamira Paszek in three sets, 26 62 63.

"It was the third time I've played her and it's always been on grass, so I'm glad I pulled through," Riske said. "I've always really enjoyed this tournament. I think it comes down to the fact I really enjoy playing on grass and they do a really great job running this tournament. I feel at home in Birmingham."

Riske has reached the quarters or better twice at the WTA level before, both times right here - the semis in 2010 (losing to Maria Sharapova) and the quarters in 2011 (losing to Daniela Hantuchova).

Elsewhere, No.6 seed Mona Barthel barely scraped by, rallying from a break down in the third set to beat Vesna Dolonc, 75 26 75, and No.8 seed Urszula Radwanska fell to Donna Vekic, 63 62.

The last match of the day was an all-American battle between Jamie Hampton and Madison Keys, and in a coincidence, Keys beat Hampton by the same scoreline as the Schiavone match, 26 63 76(3).

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