By Britwatch Tennis

  • H2H: Watson leads 2-1
  • Just six places apart in the rankings

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – British No. 2 Heather Watson begins her campaign at the Australian Open against Hungary’s Timea Babos.

Britwatch Tennis: Full Draws and Schedules

This is quite a close-run pairing. With Watson a scant six places above the Hungarian, this is one of those hard to predict matches. Although the Guernsey girl leads their head to head, it was Babos who snared the last win in Cincinnati qualification last year in three sets.

Watson may have lost her spot at the top of the British tennis perch to Johanna Konta, but she has been the most consistent of the pair coming into the Australian Open, albeit missing out on defending her Hobart title.

She is, however, match fit having played through the Hopman Cup through a tough match-up with Caroline Garcia, not to mention an epic second round in Hobart against fourth seed Monica Niculescu.

Still under the temporary guidance of GB Fed Cup Captain Judy Murray after parting ways with her coach Diego Veronelli, she has found a way to scrap out some tough wins, and was perhaps a little unfortunate that Hobart was clobbered (as were all the other tournaments this week) with rain that saw her play her second round marathon, and then a very late (read early morning) match for the quarter-final. Babos opened her 2016 account with a run to the semi-final in Shenzhen

Watson’s best in Melbourne saw her reach the third round in 2013, but either side of that she has fallen either in qualifying or at the first round. Babos has yet to make it past the first round.

Babos enjoys hard courts and as an accomplished doubles player too, she will look to play an aggressive game. Watson has great court coverage, but while she has always been a great defensive player, she has been working on playing more aggressively and beefing up her serve. She does know when to revert to defence if attacking play is not working, and that patience and confidence to change her game plan on the fly might be what makes the difference in her opener.

Hopefully well rested, this is a winnable encounter, but it would surprise no-one if the closely matched pair duked it out over three sets.

Watson and Babos are scheduled on Court 8, not before 6pm (7am GMT).

 

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