Watson roars through Miami Open R1, Stephens next

By Ros Satar

  • Heather Watson [WC] def. Petra Cetkovska 6-1 6-0
  • R2: Faces Sloane Stephens [20] – H2H: Watson leads 4-2

MIAMI, USA – Heather Watson ripped past Petra Cetkovska in her opening round at the Miami Open in just 47 minutes, to set up a round two clash with Sloane Stephens.

Britwatch Tennis: Full Draws and Schedules

Watson, who had coach Diego Veronelli back in her corner gave him a lot to smile about after registering her first win over Czech Cetkovska in just over three quarters of an hour. Veronelli and Watson had parted company as the Argentine coach had wanted to spend more time with his young family. Watson was assisted while in Australian by former Fed Cup captain Judy Murray, before having mother Michelle in her camp in Monterrey and Indian Wells.

Cetkovska’s wins over Watson came over four years ago, and since then both have had injury and illness woes but for the Czech she has see-sawed in and out of the Top 50, last year missing two months with a hip injury, and not having played this year since the Australian Open.

It showed, as her usual reliable serve and forehand combination was barely firing, with Watson sving four break points to turn the tables on the Czech to break her twice in the first set. The momentum stayed with the Guernsey girl as Cetkovska didn’t get a sniff of a break point in the second set and Watson ran riot.

It is a difficult to then gauge where Watson’s game is. The Monterrey win was a fantastic boost for Watson, who found herself with British No. 3 Naomi Broady hot on her heels, but may have left her a little over-cooked when it came to defending last year’s fourth round in Indian Wells.

Round 2 Preview: Heather Watson v Sloane Stephens – H2H: Watson 4-2 Stephens

Watson had the measure of Stephens up to last year. She beat the American in Hobart, on her way to her second WTA title, but since then Stephens has been showing more and more of why she was a key contender for the mantle of America’s next big thing. After some high profile coaching changes, Stephens seems to have matured into some solid results.

She already has two titles to her name this year, to Watson’s one although both of them exited Indian Wells far earlier than they would have liked, with Stephens bowing out in the opening round to Eugenie Bouchard.

On paper this is a tough one for Watson. She knows she has the game to outwit Stephens, but a lot has changed for both of them since she owned an impressive 4-0 record over the American. Their earlier matches were pretty close three setters, and if Watson is feeling confident about her game since getting Veronelli back on board, then she could well drag Stephens into a third set, and her fighting qualities could well be enough.

Both serve solidly, both are athletic around the court, and both are capable of coming forward and finished at the net so this should be a good match up. Where Stephens perhaps has a little more power, Watson might just have the edge on variety.

If both bring their A-game, this could be a tough three-setter.

Prediction: Watson in three sets.

The Miami Open takes place between 21 March and 3 April.

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