Stefanie Voegele edged out the last British representative at the French Open, Heather Watson, in their rain-delayed first round match.
WTA Staff

PARIS, France - Stefanie Voegele defeated a typically gutsy Heather Watson on Wednesday to end British involvement at Roland Garros for another year.

After only recently recovering from glandular fever, there was considerable surprise that Watson was able to compete in Paris at all, yet she came within a whisker of reaching the second round, battling away valiantly for over two hours and 20 minutes before finally succumbing, 64 26 64.

In the end, the result hinged on a marginal line call in the opening game of the third set, when Watson dragged a forehand a fraction wide to offer up a break. From there the Brit was always playing catch up, and despite carving out three chances to draw level at 4-4, Voegele proved too strong, saving the last with a delightful touch volley at the net.

Moments later, the Swiss player closed out the match with an impressive hold to book a second round meeting with Kaia Kanepi.

Even in defeat, there was plenty for Watson - who was playing her first match in over two months - to draw comfort from, particularly a second set display in which she cast off the shackles to reel off 20 winners.

"Today I'm pleased with how I played in the second and third," Watson said. "I was aggressive, I was hitting it well and I've got plenty of things to build on and try to improve on from here.

"I knew it was going to be tough my first match back. But still I'm super disappointed I lost as I wanted more matches under my belt."

Now Watson, and her compatriots and fellow first round losers Laura Robson and Elena Baltacha, will regroup and return home for the whistle-stop grass court season.

"I still think it helped me and I'll move on from here, get in the gym, do stuff to get fit for the grass," Watson added. "I'm still not 100% yet, I haven't done any running so far. I've just done a bit of weights, core stuff. It's about gradually, gradually building up."

Like Watson, Baltacha, who lost to Marina Erakovic on Monday, is also on the comeback trail after undergoing foot surgery in 2012. Last week in Brussels she defeated Watson's conqueror, Voegele, before falling in the second round to Varvara Lepchenko, and the 29-year-old is confident that her game is heading in the right direction.

"The comeback has been pretty good so far and I'm pretty happy," Baltacha said after her 63 60 defeat to Erakovic. "My form has been good. It's just a shame Marina played such a good match and I couldn't turn it around.

"But that happens. Am I going to grumble in my sixth tournament back? No. I mean, it's going well really well and I've just got to get on with it really.

"I think as long as I keep improving and I'm very excited and very positive. Getting Louis Cayer on board has been great and has added a lot of amazing things to my game. I know definitely I'm a better player than what I was before, so I just have to keep chipping away at that and I know it will come good in the end."