By Ros Satar
- Heather Watson came out on top of a see-saw match with Lee Ya-Hsuan 6-0 6-7(5) 6-4
- Into her first quarter-final since winning the title in Hobart at the start of the year
- Faces Sam Stosur for the first time
HONG KONG – Heather Watson battled through a see-saw match to book a place in her first quarter-final since winning the Hobart title at the start of the year, beating Lee Ya-Hsuan 6-0 6-7(5) 6-4.
The start could not have been any better for the Brit as she swiftly ripped through the first set, in 26 minutes, breaking the World No. 245 in each service game, but soon met with resistance in the second set, after breaking for a fourth time and then losing her own serve.
It gave Lee some confidence as she kept with Watson all the way, putting the British No. 2 under pressure and finally getting her own breakthrough after four break points to lead 6-5. Watson battled hard squandering a couple of break points and having to save a set point before forcing a tie-break.
The momentum shifting did not stop there as first Watson surged ahead (3-1) and then Lee (5-3) before Watson battled back to level again at 5-5. Lee dug in to edge the tie-break and took the World No. 61 into the decider.
It was a nervy start for the pair, trading breaks in the first three games but it would be Watson who took advantage of another pair of breaks to edge ahead 5-3, holding off Lee to serve the match out for the first time of asking.
Watson has struggled to maintain consistency since the Wimbledon third round, picking up some good runs in qualifying but failing to translate that in the main draw in Toronto and Wuhan and didn’t even make it out of qualifying in Beijing, so this has been a good battle to win, especially having had to come from a set down in her Hong Kong opener.
She will face Samantha Stosur in the quarter-finals. Stosur too has struggled through her Asian swing with her first back to back wins in Hong Kong since losing in the fourth round of the US Open. Stosur, on her day, will look to utilise her kick serve for free points, but Watson has worked hard on improving her serve and attack as well as having great defence, which will come in handy against Stosur’s heavy top-spin forehand. She will look to utilise the variety in her game and while she has worked hard on being far more aggressive, she will have to not over-hit or flatten out the ball too much against the Aussie.
Meanwhile as new British No. 1 Johanna Konta made the most of her lucky loser slot to advance in Linz, there was less good news for Laura Robson. After making her long awaited return to the tour this year at Eastbourne after 17 months off the tour with a wrist injury. The former British No. 1 will now miss the rest of the season to work on recovery and fitness. Her return saw her play 10 matches, with her last being an ITF event in Monterrey.
Laura Robson on her return at Eastbourne earlier this year
As reported by the BBC, her management company stated: “Laura’s team decided it was most effective for her to spend her time training for the rest of the year.”
After a very rusty comeback in Eastbourne qualifying, Robson put up more of a fight in the first round of Wimbledon as a wildcard before switching back to ITF events in the run up to New Haven qualification and the first round of the US Open, before picking up one win in Monterrey. Robson will have a protected ranking of 58 to use at next year’s Australian Open – her last ranking position at the 2014 Australian Open before the wrist injury and subsequent operations have basically ruled her out of the tour for the last year and a half.
Watson and Stosur are scheduled to play their quarter-final on Friday.
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