By Ros Satar
- Heather Watson def. Ekaterina Makarova 6-4 6-1
- Sets up clash with World No. 1 & top seed Angelique Kerber
- Kerber leads H2H 2-0
MONTERREY, MEXICO – Heather Watson gained a little more confidence with a solid win over Ekaterina Makarova, but can she continue her title defence against top seed, and World No. 1 Angelique Kerber?
Heather Watson def. Ekaterina Makarova 6-4 6-1
The first set was a strong battle of wills with the first break point opportunity coming and then going for the defending champion, before she then had to stave off two break points on her own serve towards the end of the set. That hold proved to be key for Watson, who broke the Russian to take the first set.
The second set ripped by awfully quickly for the wild-card who came in as the No. 6 seed, as Watson broke her twice in succession, but it was an almighty effort at the finish, as she saw five match points come and go, with Makarova fighting tooth and nail at the finish, before converting on her sixth.
Watson v Angelique Kerber  – H2H: Kerber leads 2-0
Getting past Angelique Kerber is going to be tough, but what price confidence for the former British No. 1 now the No. 3? Up to this point this year on the tour had been pretty demoralising. She had no back to back wins until now, and her best results had come at the Fed Cup Group stages where she perhaps the most solid of the team.
It is an interesting match-up between the pair. Both have amazing defensive capabilities – Kerber can run and run, and then run some more, while Watson’s court coverage and smarts make her able to switch from aggressive play to defence very quickly.
Both have looked to be far more aggressive in their games and not to just rely on solid defence to get them the wins, and we have seen that Kerber’s serve has been a tad shaky in the early part of the season. Both have had their battles here. Kerber dropped the first set to Francesca Schiavone in her opener, but was in supreme form against Mandy Minella, while Watson was dragged to a taut, long three setter in her opener.
There previous encounters have been three setters, and if Watson has just a little more confidence in her game now after a good win, she might be able to drag the World No. 1 the distance. Kerber has been difficult to predict this season, as she now finds herself in the position of still being a defending Grand Slam champion when the US Open swings around, and being the World No. 1 once more. She has worked at putting all that expectation behind her when she plays, but occasionally there is a wobble that Watson could just take advantage of.
Prediction: Kerber in three sets.
Watson and Kerber are scheduled on the Estadio GNP Seguros, not before 8:30pm (2:30am Saturday, BST).
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