By Ros Satar, in Eastbourne
- Heather Watson reclaims the British No. 2 spot despite falling to Caroline Wozniacki 6-2 3-6 7-5
- Novak Djokovic advances to the Eastbourne final
EASTBOURNE, UK – Heather Watson leaves Eastbourne with some confidence while Novak Djokovic has built up a run of his own as the finals were set.
Watson: ‘It’s been a good week’
Around a week ago, Heather Watson sat in press after a second first round exit at a WTA tour level event, but seemed upbeat that things would click soon. After all she had finished in Roland Garros early but seemed up beat. Certainly happier than when we had last spoken to her in Indian Wells, where the prospect of defending fourth round points seemed insurmountable.
She lost her grip (albeit briefly) on the British No. 2 ranking to close friend Naomi Broady, but she was back on her favourite surface and more importantly, in front of home crowds. That is not to say there was not fervent support for the Guernsey girl at Nottingham or Birmingham but maybe being beside the sea-s-de was the winning formula.
She has been a semi-finalist here before, in 2014 but it was always going to be a tough ask against a player who, like Watson, can make you run for every ball. Even after Wozniacki struggled with a left abdominal muscle strain that impacted her serving, her scrambling skills always forced Watson to go for the extra ball, often leaking frustrating errors.
Yet there was much to take away as positives for Watson. For a start she regains the British No. 2 spot heading into Wimbledon, and is just a few of places adrift of the Top 100, which would set her up for the US Open main draw – so all in all things seem to be moving in the right direction.
She told reporters: “Right now I’m pretty disappointed that I lost. As far as my performance goes, I’m pleased with how I fought back and got myself back into the match. I started a bit — well, not including the first two games, but after that I was a bit slow and heavy to the ball, making a lot of mistakes. Yeah, I’m pleased. It’s been a good week. I’m feeling ready for Wimbledon
“Can’t get away from [the Wimbledon draw], can you (smiling)? Usually I don’t look, but with a Grand Slam you have people messaging you, like social media notifications come up, and so, yeah, I have seen. I’m feeling optimistic, feeling great within myself going into next week. Yeah, I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Djokovic sails into the Eastbourne final
It continued to be plain sailing for Eastbourne’s special guest star Novak Djokovic, who dealt with the flurries of resistance thrown up by Daniil Medvedev handily. The Russian had the temerity to break Djokovic back in the first set before losing his serve at the end for Djokovic to serve out the first set comfortably.
Djokovic started the second set exactly as he started the first, breaking the Russian in the opening game, although Medvedev stayed toe-to-toe with the Serbian, with no further sniff of a break for either player until Djokovic had a chance to break for the match but could not convert, making no mistake on the second attempt.
There were some worrying moments for his opponent Gael Monfils, with a couple of tumbles tweaking an already injured knee but Djokovic set out what he expects when he faces the No. 2 seed on Saturday.
He told reporters: “He’s such a dynamic player and unpredictable. He’s got an overall game. He’s got a full package, if you want to call it that way. He’s so athletic. He has a big, big serve. Of course moves around the court very well. Plays well at the net, as well. Returns.
“If things come together for him and if he really wants to, you know, perform well that day, he can be really tough. I mean, he can beat anyone, especially with that serve. I mean, if he has a high percentage of first serve, and I have seen today a little bit of the match, current match, and, you know, he serves 130-plus miles regularly, first serve, that’s huge.
“So, you know, it depends a lot on how he feels, how he serves. I have played him many times before, so I have very good head-to-head, but I don’t think we ever played on grass. It would be a first.”
The final between Karolina Pliskova & Wozniacki takes place at 12:15, with Djokovic and Monfils following not before 2pm, all times BST.
Featured Image Credit: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
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