By Ros Satar
- Heather Watson v Nicole Gibbs – H2H: Gibbs leads 1-0
- Kyle Edmund v [Q] Nikolaz Basilashvili – H2H: First meeting
PARIS, FRANCE – Two Brits help kick off the now traditional Sunday start at Roland Garros as Heather Watson and Kyle Edmund start their campaigns.
Britwatch Tennis: Full Draws and Schedules
Heather Watson v Nicole Gibbs – H2H: Gibbs leads 1-0
It really is getting to crunch time, Olympically speaking, for the Guernsey girl, who is hovering right on cusp of the Olympic cut-off, and is in need of a solid run in France. She could at least get off to a good start against the slightly lower ranked Gibbs.
The American leads by 1-0, beating Watson on the hard courts of Seoul as the Brit was coming back from her illness-marred season of 2013, as she was recovering from the effects of glandular fever. It has been a long climb back for the Brit, who has made third set battles a regular occurrence now.
Her clay court season has been a little stronger than Gibbs thus far. The American has just one win this season in Nurnberg while Watson’s most stable run came in Rome where she fought through two three-setters before knocking out home favourite and 14th seed Sara Errani, before bowing out to Barbora Strycova.
This could well be another gruelling encounter – both play decent defensive games, and between Watson having injected a lot more aggression and pep into her serve, combined with Gibbs looking to often dictate play off her forehand side, we can expect to see some heavy hitting.
An area for Watson to maybe exploit is at the net – it is something Gibbs has admitted she is working on but not something she finds particularly comfortable. Watson’s strength is her athleticism and variety, and this will probably be the key to wrestle control away from Gibbs. She can be tricked into over-hitting and going for too much though, and making things unnecessarily hard for herself.
Prediction: Watson in three sets
Kyle Edmund v [Q] Nikolaz Basilashvili – H2H: First meeting
The big question is – has Edmund completely recovered from the ankle cruising after a crushing fall in his match against Alexander Zverev in Nice (Not for the faint-hearted – Video via xHoe, YouTube)
He has posted pictures on his Facebook page practicing and that is indeed a good sign. Qualifier Basilashvili lists clay as one of his favourite surfaces, and his best run this season was at the Heilbronn Challenger, winning the title, before coming to Paris and coming through qualifying, albeit all in three setters.
Edmund, in fairness, has also been in the winner’s circle, winning the Rome Challenger the same week, as well as getting some tougher competition under his belt on the World Tour clay swing.
This time last year, Edmund came through a five-set battle over Frenchman Stephane Robert but sadly inury claimed him before his second round encounter. His overall stamina has often been a concern especially in best-of-five matches – he will want to try and get this one in the back nice and quickly but expect the qualifier to give him a hard time.
Prediction: Edmund in four sets.
Watson is not expected before 1pm (12pm BST) on Court 3, with Edmund not before 4pm (3pm) BST, on Court 6.
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