By Ros Satar

  • R1: Heather Watson def. Nicole Gibbs [WC] 4-6 6-2 6-2
  • R2: Johanna Konta [11] v Watson
  • Head to head: Konta leads 1-0
INDIAN WELLS, USA – All British clash between Johanna Konta and Heather Watson kicks off Friday’s action as the WTA second round matches get underway.

 

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R1: Heather Watson def. Nicole Gibbs [WC] 4-6 6-2 6-2

Early starts in the Californian are by now nothing new for British No. 2 Heather Watson who got the British contingent underway in fine style on Wednesday with a hard fought win over Nicole Gibbs.

It was a challenging start for the Brit, as the pair traded breaks with Gibbs just nudging ahead. Even thought they would challenge each others serve once more in the first set, Gibbs did not lose that initial advantage and edged the first set.

Watson was undeterred though, breaking twice at the end of the second set after a particularly difficult game, finally converting on a fifth break point, and breaking a lot more forcefully to love to level the match.

The British No. 2 repeated the pattern in the third set, breaking Gibbs twice at the end of the decider to set up just a second clash between her and British No. 1 and World No. 11 Johanna Konta.

 

 

R2: Johanna Konta [11] v Watson – H2H: Konta leads 1-0

From the outset, we cannot put much store in the head to head – a Barnstaple 75K in 2013, with Watson retiring to the then World No. 122 0-4.

Of course a lot of things have changed since then. Both have tasted WTA tour title victories, although Konta has the bigger silverware under her belt, winning two Premier title in Stanford and Sydney, with Watson claiming three WTA International honours in Osaka, Hobart and Monterrey.

Konta has roared ahead of her contemporary though in terms of ascension up the ranks, and more importantly this year coming out of the blocks strongly, as befitted her Top 10 status. The foot injury that quelled her Middle Eastern swing leaves her a little short on sharpness, but she of course comes into the match as the overwhelming favourite.

The pair have contrasting styles – Watson has worked hard to put a lot more pep on her serve, but has a scrambler’s tendency for defence that has gotten her out of trouble on more than one occasion. Konta has a decent serve, strong groundstrokes but perhaps can be a little vulnerable at the net.

There should be absolutely no secrets in each other’s games – they have partnered each other in doubles on more than one occasion on the tour, at the Rio 2016 Olympics and most recently in a decisive Fed Cup doubles rubber that sent GB into the World Group play offs.

Watson was superb during the group stages – and if she can carry through that sense of confidence into this match, she could make it a long day in the noon-day sun for her compatriot. Yet in truth if Konta is fully recovered, she probably has just a little too much fire-power for her fellow countrywoman.

Prediction: Konta in three sets.

Konta and Watson are scheduled on Stadium 1 at 11am (7pm GMT)

 

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