By Ros Satar

  • Qualifier Heather Watson advances in Rome against Sara Errani 6-4 3-6 6-0
  • British women’s No. 1 Johanna Konta takes on qualifier Johanna Larsson
  • British men’s No. 2 Aljaz Bedene also in action against Stephane Robert

ROME, ITALY – Brits are on their way as Heather Watson defeated home crowd favourite Sara Errani as Johanna Konta and Aljaz Bedene grace the schedule for Tuesday.

Britwatch Tennis: Full Draws and Schedules

Heather Watson def. Sara Errani [14] 6-4 3-6 6-0

Watson’s reputation as a battler was intact after a tough battle with Italy’s Sara Errani, with momentum sitching back and forth. The pair went hell for leather trading breaks throughout the first set, with Watson getting the crucial lead to serve for the first set. Watson saw her comfortable three set point cushion eroded as Errani saved all three and brought up a break point of her own. Another four set points went begging for the Brit before Errani broke her once more. As was the pattern of the first set, Watson hit back immediately breaking with her eighth break point.

Given that Errani had two medical time-outs in just the first set alone, she started the second set well with an a leap out to a 4-0 lead until Watson regained some of her ground, getting one of the breaks back but being broken for the Italian to level the set.

But it was all one way traffic in the decider, with Errani not getting any further games on the board. Watson plays Czech Barbora Strycova in the second round.

 

Johanna Konta v Johanna Larsson [Q] – H2H: Larsson leads 1-0

So far the clay court season has not been as kind to Konta as the start of the hard court season. Her run to the semi-final of the Australian looked to be a highlight and a promise of an upwardly mobile ranking – indeed Konta sits at No. 23 in the world, but the dirt has been halting.

She struggled in Stuttgart, and had to retire in Madrid in her opener there and she makes her debut in the premier event in Italy. Larsson has picked up a little more time on the dirt, playing in Istanbul, Marrakech and coming through qualification in Rome.

There probably is not much point in reading too much into Konta’s deficit to the Swede – they played in a $125K in Ningbo with Konta retiring in the second set. Enough has happened with Konta’s new found confidence to look at this afresh, but it will be a challenge. Outisde of indoor hard courts, Larsson has notched up impressive W/Ls on clay, and will be looking to make up ground in the rankings after missing two months last year with a right elbow injury, wiping out a lot of the clay court season leading up to the French Open.

Given Larsson’s familiarity with the court this year, and the fact she has already surpassed her best performance here (she lost in the first round of qualifying in 2012) Konta will have her work cut out.

Prediction: Konta in three sets.

Aljaz Bedene [Q] v Stepane Robert [Q] – H2H: Bedene leads 2-1

There is no denying times have been a bit tough for the quiet-spoken Brit. His appeal to represent his country at Davis Cup and ultimately the Olympics fell on deaf ears, and there is no doubt that seems to have affected him.

Add to that two straight losses to 19-year-old Russian Karen Khachanov and it is about time his fortunes changed. He started well with a win at the Monte Carlo masters before meeting eventual champion Rafael Nadal in the second round, and then a pretty miserable time at the hands of the Russian teenager in Barcelona and Istanbul, before his two qualifying wins.

He had to come from a set down against Italian wild-card Omar Giacalone but made a better job of his final round against Kenny De Schepper. By contracts the Frenchman has looked to mix up his time on the clay with a couple of Challenger events in between the main tour events, so plenty of time on the dirt under his feet.

Their last meeting was at Vina Del Mar on clay two years ago, where once more Bedene came from a set down and much like his compatriots Konta and Watson, once he gets the bit between his teeth with touch matches, he seems to come through.

 Prediction: Bedene in three sets.

Konta and Bedene are both scheduled to play not before 12:30pm (11:30am BST).

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