Watson starts grass season in Birmingham

By Ros Satar

  • Heather Watson makes her comeback after being troubled since Paris with an elbow injury
  • Starts campaign against qualifier Aleksandra Krunic
  • Success already for Johanna Konta and Naomi Broady

British No. 1 Heather Watson is ready for the grass court season, as she opens up her campaign against feisty Serbian qualifier Aleksandra Krunic. She stands out as a gutsy little player after she had a returning Victoria Azarenka on the ropes in the fourth round of the US Open last year, after battling her way through qualifying and beating Madison Keys, Petra Kvitova and taking a set off the former World No. 1 before bowing out.

She started the year well again coming through qualifying to make the quarter-final of Shenzhen, losing to the eventual champion Simona Halep, but since then has not really set the tour alight, even dropping back to a few ITF events.

Watson also started her season well, with a second career title in Hobart, and a strong showing into the fourth round of Indian Wells before floundering somewhat with no back to back wins since then.

A tough battle in Roland Garros saw her reach the second round once more in her career but she looked hampered with strapping along her arm in her match against Sloane Stephens, and had to withdraw from Nottingham last week to rest her injured elbow further.

On paper of course this is very winnable, and she has a tight head to head against Carla Suarez Navarro so she could swing the win if she’s in top form. A lot will come down to how she copes with a player who will be free swinging and has nothing to lose.

She will hopefully coast on the back of some solid British success already as Johanna Konta added to her great run to the Nottingham quarter-final, notching up two Top 100 scalps along the way, and adding one more with Jarmila Gajdosova in her opener on Monday.

But pat on the back for the day had to go to Naomi Broady who kept her cool, ousting Ajla Tomljanovic in straight sets 63 64. Alas the third wildcard of the day in action Katie Swan bowed out on her debut on the WTA Tour as Tsvetana Pironkova won 6-2 6-2. Broady has nothing to lose and vowed to go out and try to enjoy her reward – a meeting with the top seed Simona Halep.

Watson will be second on Centre Court, not before 12:30pm BST, with Halep and Broady not expected before 2pm BST.

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