LONDON, Great Britain - After losing a three-set tussle on Centre Court earlier on Friday, Great Britain's Heather Watson got a measure of revenge against Victoria Azarenka on Court 8 in mixed doubles as the draw got underway.
Watson, the defending champion at the All-England Club in mixed alongside Finland's Henri Kontinen, defeated Azarenka and Nenad Zimonjic, 6-3, 6-4 in a matchup of two unseeded teams - where all four players own Grand Slam titles in mixed doubles.
Watson and Kontinen stunned the tennis world with a run to the title a year ago - where they were the beneficiaries of two walkovers and defeated Martina Hingis and Leander Paes - the 2015 champions - en route. In the final, they defeated Robert Farah and Anna-Lena Groenefeld, 7-6(5), 6-4, to see Kontinen become the first Finnish Grand Slam champion, and Watson the first British woman to win the mixed doubles since Jo Durie did with Jeremy Bates in 1987.
"I definitely didn't want to lose to her twice in one day, so I was very pleased to get through that, finish on a good note. Obviously I would have wanted to get the singles," Watson said. "But, you know, she's so experienced. She's been at the top of the game for a long time. She just hung in there and played really well when it mattered [in the singles]."
Watson led a total of seven British players into the second round of mixed, as Anna Smith (alongside Neal Skupski), Naomi Broady (alongside brother Liam) and Jocelyn Rae (alongside Ken Skupski) all advanced.
Skupski and Smith advanced at the expense of compatriots Joe Salisbury and Katy Dunne, while fellow Brits Laura Robson and Katie Swan each fell at the first hurdle alongside their partners.
Americans Madison Keys and Nicole Melichar were the lone victors for the stars and stripes out of the seven that took the court on Friday.
Keys partnered Jack Sock to a 6-4, 6-4 win over Alicija Rosolska and partner Guillermo Duran, while Melichar and Andre Bergmann scored a win over Robson and Dominic Inglot, 6-3, 6-4, late in the day on No.1 Court.
Sloane Stephens, alongside John-Patrick Smith, played in one of two of the most dramatic matches of the day, as the American and Australian pair came up short in a 6-3, 3-6, 9-7 decision against Maria Jose Mártinez Sanchez and Marcelo Demoliner - who reached the quarterfinals together at Roland Garros.
Sabine Lisicki, who like Stephens, is returning from a lengthy injury layoff this grass-court season, had a little more to celebrate in mixed doubles, as she and John Peers defeated Scott Lipsky and Alla Kudryavtseva, 6-4, 7-6(4).
To close things out on the day, Ana Konjuh - who had a thrilling singles victory over No.8 seed Dominika Cibulkova earlier in her singles match - came out victorious alongside compatriot Nikola Metkic, 7-5, 6-7(3), 12-10 over Raquel Atawo and Andre Sa.
After playing 2:36 on the singles court, Konjuh logged 2:43 on the doubles court for a total of five hours, 19 minutes and two victories to cap her thrilling first week at the All-England Club.
The 16 seeded teams in the draw, headlined by No.1 Martina Hingis and Jamie Murray, and No.2 Elena Vesnina and Bruno Soares, all received byes into round two.
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