By Jake Davies/Ros Satar
- Beatriz Haddad Maia defeats Heather Watson 7-5, 4-6, 6-1
- Dominic Thiem  def. Cameron Norrie [Q] 6-3 5-7 7-5
ACAPULCO, MEXICO – Heather Watson bowed out in the first round stage to Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia. Cameron Norrie gave a good account of himself, testing Dominic Thiem.
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Beatriz Haddad Maia defeats Heather Watson 7-5 4-6 6-1
The match started off as a bit of a feeling out process. Both Beatriz Haddad Maia and Heather Watson were essentially trying to suss out the strengths and weaknesses of their opponent in their first ever meeting on a tennis court. It was a scrappy affair to begin with. Watson, who has only ever won one main draw match at the event in Acapulco before, was having real difficulty to find a real rhythm on her service motion.
The pair traded four breaks in the first six games and neither really stamped their authority on the match from the baseline. The Brazilian No.1 and World No.60 edged a tight first set 7-5. Watson’s inability to look totally comfortable on her serve actually put way too much pressure on her ground game. The serve was off, so she had to rely on her superior footwork and her battling skills from the back of the court, but after a while that can get tiring. She needed easy points off the serve, because when Watson does feel confident on serve it flows through the other facets of her game.
Watson quickly moved into a 5-1 lead in the second set. Haddad Maia’s level had dropped off significantly, but pushed a late fightback to win the next three games. You could argue that the additional energy and effort that Watson expended to win the 2nd set actually played a huge role in the outcome of the match. The Brit levelled the match and refused to buckle, but a sudden back problem derailed her fight in the deciding set.
After taking a medical time out for that upper back injury at 5-0 down in the 3rd set, Watson did play some encouraging points and started caressing the ball immaculately for a sequence of points, but Haddad Maia won the war of attrition and outlasted the Brit to seal the deal in the 3rd set 6-1.
It is a disappointing outcome for Watson. It was not one of her best days on court even in the first and the second set, but she put a lot of effort into that match and will feel discouraged by the way the match unfolded in the deciding set. The World No.71 now moves on to two big tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami. Lots of points will be up for grabs but Watson will remain hopeful that that back injury disappears in the coming days.
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Dominic Thiem  def. Cameron Norrie [Q] 6-3 5-7 7-5
Cameron Norrie continued his upward form after coming through the qualifying rounds to face World No. 6 and third seed Dominic Thiem in the opening round of the main draw.
Norrie fended off five break points in the first set, before relinquishing his serve to love for the Austrian to get ahead before taking the first set. The pair battled toe-to-toe before Thiem broke towards the end of the second set, but Norrie rallied to save one match point and break. The Brit saved another two break points, and broke Thiem one more to level the match.
It was another close affair in the final set, with a single break to Thiem at the end before he wrapped up the win.
Norrie’s progress continues apace, as he continues his rise up the rankings and next up for the Brit is likely to be the qualifying rounds at the BNP Paribas Open.
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