By Ros Satar
- British No. 1 Heather Watson struggles in Washington at the start of the US Hard Court Swing, losing to wildcard Louisa Chirico 6-3 6-0
- On the qualifying lists for the WTA Premier Mandatories in Toronto and Cincinnati
- Defending third round at the Coupe Rogers next week
Heather Watson’s US swing hit a bump in the road after a straight sets loss in the first round of the Citi Open, Washington DC to US Wildcard Louisa Chirico.
It was not a great start for the Brit No. 1 – broken in the first game by the World 128, who hit the circuit in 2012 and has seen some success on the ITF circuit. Watson was quick to steady the ship though, breaking straight back.
The American wildcard was not about to take that lying down though, breaking back once more as the lead flop-flopped more than the decision making on Capitol Hill. The wildcard, who in the past has never made it past the first round of qualifying at the event, was soon in the ascendency, building up a 5-3 lead and consolidating by taking the first set on her third set point.
The momentum stayed with her as her ball striking left Watson once more on the back foot with an early break at the start of the second set. Watson seemed all at sea as the American coasted on to her first WTA main draw win this year, with the Brit failing to get on the board in the second set.
It was a disappointing start for the British No. 1 who took Serena Williams to three sets in the third round at Wimbledon.
Watson will need to pick herself up, currently on the list for the qualifying draw in Toronto and Cincinnati, and although she exited in the Washington opener last year, she came through qualifying at the Coupe Rogers to rack up a couple of wins before losing in the third round to Victoria Azarenka.
With first round losses at Cincinnati and then the US Open, the chance is there for Watson to try and gain some ground, providing she can tuck some match play under her in the next two Premier Mandatory events.
British hopes are still alive though, as Naomi Broady fought through qualifying to make the main draw, where she will start against Jarmila Gajdosova. Broady scored a decent Top 100 scalp when she beat Ajla Tomljanovic in the opening round in Birmingham, and has picked up two wins over players ranked above her on her way to the Washington main draw.
Broady is expected on court on Tuesday 4 August – follow the action with the Britwatch Sports Live-Score Service.