By Ros Satar

  • Heather Watson v Nicole Gibbs [WC]
  • Head to Head 1-1
INDIAN WELLS, USA – Heather Watson faces American wildcard Nicole Gibbs in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, for the chance of a shot at British No. 1 Johanna Konta.



Heather Watson v Nicole Gibbs [WC] – H2H: 1-1

Heather Watson has retained her status as the British No. 2 for now, as she slipped just outside the Top 100, but earned her spot in the Indian Wells main draw after Alizé Cornet withdrew through injury. The last time she faced Nicole Gibbs in a soggy claggy Roland Garros, she fought from a tight set down to get the better of the American in a fairly feisty encounter. That being said they reunited to play the doubles at the same tournament.

On the hard courts of Seoul three years ago, then qualifier Gibbs was triumphant over the Brit, so with just a handful of places separating them in the rankings right now, we can expect this to be a close one.

Watson looked to be all at sea earlier in the year. She won a great opener in Melbourne against home hope Samantha Stosur, but lost to qualifier Jennifer Brady in a match by rights she ought to have put away. However she redeemed herself with a flawless performance helping the Great Britain Fed Cup team to have a real shot of advancing out of the group stages.

Although short on tour back to back wins after losing a real bruiser of a match to Kristina Mladenovic in Acapulco, she has some good court time under her belt – but she needs to start converting some of this close encounters into wins.

There is no doubting that Watson has good court smarts – she plays a strong defensive game and has actively worked on her serve in attempts to be far more aggressive on the court. Yet at times her matches seem to be more of a roller-coaster than the average Andy Murray match!

Gibbs is also adept and defending herself out of trouble but she has a decent forehand on her, and has been working on coming into the net a lot more to be a bit more of an all-court player, and on that score we might just give Watson an edge.

All in all, we expect this to go the distance.

Prediction: Watson in three sets.



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