By Ros Satar
- Heather Watson  def. Kateryna Bondarenko 7-6(2) 6-2
- Watson v Christina McHale | McHale leads H2H 3-1
- Zhu Lin  def. Katie Boulter 7-6(2) 7-5
ACAPULCO, MEXICO – Heather Watson eased past Kateryna Bondarenko to reach the quarter-finals, but Katie Boulter was edged out in a close match.
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Heather Watson  def. Kateryna Bondarenko 7-6(2) 6-2
British No. 2 Heather Watson continued a strong start to the year with a slightly more straight forward win over Kateryna Bondarenko. The match started with three breaks of serve before Watson was the first to hold to gain a 3-1 advantage before losing her serve twice for Bondarenko to edge ahead.
Watson got a break back to get things back on serve, and saved two set points before nudging ahead once more with a break. Bondarenko struck once more to force a tie-break.
As seemed to be the pattern of the set, the pair traded mini-breaks before Bondarenko faltered on her serve to hand Watson a 5-1 lead, losing one more mini-break to the Ukrainian before she broke her twice for the first set.
The second set was a more assured performance with Watson breaking for an early 3-0 lead and finishing things off with a break for the match.
As reported by the WTA, Watson had felt something give in her knee in the first set, before losing those four games in a row.
She said: “At 3-1 in the first set, I felt like I was playing really good, feeling the ball well. At 15-0, I hit a backhand return, and I landed funny and felt my knee a bit, and I lost the next four games.
“I was even thinking, ‘I don’t know am I going to finish this match.’ As the match went on, I started to get a better feeling in my knee, more trust in it, and it was a battle by that stage.”
She continued: “I did really well to save those set points in the first set in that really tight game, and I played a really good tiebreak.
“Once I got through that, I felt like I had momentum and I could release more in my strokes. I was really pleased with that second set, especially because it was such a physical match in these conditions.
“It was a good test of my fitness and my mental toughness today.”
Watson v Christina McHale | McHale leads H2H 3-1
She faces an old adversary in Christina McHale, who beat Watson in their last encounter, here in Acapulco in 2016.
McHale reached the semi-final on that occasion and the year after that, but has had a fairly average start to the year reaching the quarter-final of the lower tier Newport Beach $125K WTA event earlier in the year.
McHale can project a sense of calm about her game, aggressive from the baseline with a topspin forehand but in general she is solid but much like Watson where is no one great weapon to fall back on. Both move well, and can adjust to their circumstances although perhaps Watson wears her heart on her sleeve a little more and can show her frustration if her game is letting her down.
If Watson was hoping for less of a battle, the pair tend to go the distance in their bouts, so Watson will need patience and staying power, so it remains to be seen just what effect this tweak to her knee will have if she has to brace herself for another three setter.
Prediction: Watson in three sets.
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Zhu Lin  def. Katie Boulter 7-6(2) 7-5
After a pretty gruelling opener, Katie Boulter found herself edged out in two tight sets against the No. 6 seed Zhu Lin, but there are lot of positives for her to take away from this as she looks to climb back up the rankings after suffering a stress fracture to her back while on GB Fed Cup duty.
Boulter kept her nerve after being broken in the first game and stayed with Zhu toe-to-toe, again responding straight away to a break mid-way through the set. Forcing the set on to a tie-break, Zhu took control at 2-2 to reel off five points in a row to wrap up the first set.
Boulter certainly did not fade away, breaking early for the lead. However, the No. 6 seed was able to get the break back, and while Boulter stayed with the World No. 77 it was a final break to send Boulter packing.
Watson and McHale are scheduled on Grandstand Court, not before 5:30pm (Friday 12:30am GMT).
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