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By Ros Satar

  • Sara Errani [14] v Heather Watson [Q]
  • H2H: Errani leads 1-0

ROME, ITALY – Heather Watson battled her way from qualifying into the main draw of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia where she will face Sara Errani in the first round.

We can only hope that with the long battles is coming some confidence to the British No. 2, in the same way that Johanna Konta attained the top spot coming through some very tough battles.

Before long we saw a feeing of self-belief, and Watson knows she has the tenacity to go deep with the very best. She cane through two tough qualifying rounds, three sets each and she has had a good amount of time on the dirt.

Errani, who picked up her biggest title to date in Dubai had a disappointing hard court spring with no back to back wins, before her run to the Charleston semi-finals, before a leg injury stopped her from competing in Stuttgart, and she made her return in Madrid, bowing out in the opening round to Camila Giorgi.

By contrast, after reaching the fourth round of Miami, Watson bounced out of the first round of Katowice, before getting five matches on the clay so far – three in Madrid, coming in as a lucky loser into the main draw, and the two qualifying rounds in Rome.

After reaching the final of Roland Garros in 2012, Errani reached the semi-final in Rome – the furthest she had ever been, before reaching the final the following year, albeit getting a beat down by Serena Williams in 2014. It was a disappointing second round loss last year, after struggling to a while with the pressure that was heaped on her after her Slam breakthrough.

As always this is a winnable match for Watson. Although the ranking deficit looks daunting, if she can take the confidence of having had time to get her movement on the clay sorted, including that switch from the altitude of Madrid to the slower heavier conditions in Rome, then she has a real chance to take the battle to the Italian.

She will, of course, have to face the crowd too, but sometimes home pressure can be more of a hindrance than a help, especially if the expectation is largely on the Italian’s shoulders.

Also the lack of match sharpness for Errani may well count in her favour. Either way their one and only encounter in Wuhan went the way of Errani but it was a tight two-setter, and if Watson is beginning to come through these tougher battles, we can maybe expect another three setter.

Prediction: Watson in three sets.

Watson and Errani are scheduled on Grandstand Court, not before 2pm (1pm BST).

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