By Ros Satar
- Heather Watson def. Kateryna Bondarenko 6-3 3-6 7-6(3)
- Faces qualifier Fanny Stollar next in Nürnberg
NÜRNBERG, GERMANY – Heather Watson snapped an eight match losing streak with a hard fought win over Kateryna Bondarenko and faces match-sharp Fanny Stollar in the second round.
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Heather Watson def. Kateryna Bondarenko 6-3 3-6 7-6(3)
It has been a long time coming, but Heather Watson finally snapped her eight-match losing streak with a hard fought win over Kateryna Bondarenko. It was a nervy affair though with three successive breaks of serve before a tough match to get the first hold of the match, with Watson saving six break points to take the advantage. That was the key to Watson striking twice more to break the Ukrainian for a one-set lead.
Watson was forced to save three more break points at the start of the second, and could not convert on a couple of chances of her own to go up once more for a 3-1 lead, with Bondarenko breaking and holding on to that advantage to level things up in the match.
There were more nerves on show with six straight breaks of serve at the start of the third set. With Watson seeing five match points come and go as Bondarenko held on to force a deciding tie-break.
There was a brace of mini-breaks at the start of the tie-breaker, before Watson managed to nudge ahead. Watson finally got over the line on her sixth match point.
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Watson v Fanny Stollar [Q] | First meeting
While Watson ought to take a lot of confidence from this win, things do not get any easier in the next round. Fanny Stollar came through qualifying in Charleston and then backed that up with a win over Johanna Konta in the second round, and has been on the dirt since the start of April.
She dropped down to the $25K level in the run up to Nürnberg, reaching the final, so she comes into this encounter very much more match-sharp that Watson, who has played just her third match on clay this season.
Stollar is a fearless young player who will not think twice about knocking off people ranked higher than her, and the teenager’s ranking of 203 belies a far better doubles ranking of 83 in the world. We can expect her to keep Watson on the move, and her to utilise her familiarity this season on the clay, and at this tournament in particular to her advantage.
For Watson’s part, she has to remember she has the experience to get her through tight matches and needs to start stringing those kinds of battles together consistently. While it is great to have the win, it will mean nothing if she now ping-pongs between wins and losses, although we ought to take the small victories where we can.
If she can harness the fighting spirit she showed in her first round, she ought to come through, but confidence is a fragile things – and Stollar’s run so far at Nurnberg puts her slightly ahead in her chances to advance.
Prediction: Stollar in three sets.
Watson and Stollar are scheduled on Show Court not before 12:30pm (11:30am BST).
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