Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Heather Watson is latest British hope to fall at first Wimbledon hurdle

Great Britain's Heather Watson in action against USA's Madison Keys during day Two of the Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
Great Britain's Heather Watson in action against USA's Madison Keys during day Two of the Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club

Britain's miserable Wimbledon continued to unfold as Heather Watson lost her first-round match in straight sets to American teenager Madison Keys.

Andy Murray was the only one of seven British players in action on day one to win, with James Ward the only other player to take a set.

Big-hitting Keys was playing in her first main-draw match at Wimbledon but she was hugely impressive in a 6-3 7-5 victory, the disappointment for Watson heightened by the fact she made it to the third round last year.

Keys is regarded as possibly the brightest of a big group of promising young American women.

The 18-year-old is already ranked 52nd in the world, just ahead of Watson, so, although it did not look a bad draw for the British number two, it was far from a good one.

Watson is still working her way back to full match fitness after two months out with glandular fever.

The 21-year-old began well on Court Two with a love hold but in her next service game Keys cranked up her groundstrokes, drilling two big winners to break to love.

Grass is not Watson's best surface, her lack of power more easily exposed, and she was finding it hard to make any impression on Keys' big kick serve.

She forced two break points at 4-3 behind but both times Keys came up with big serves, one an ace, and the American clinched the opening set with another break when Watson netted a forehand.

The Guernsey player was showing signs of frustration but her level-headed attitude has always been one of her big strengths and she made the perfect start to the second set with a break of the Keys serve.

The American hit straight back but Watson responded with another break, secured with the cutest of drop shots.

The crowd had been rather subdued but they cheered as Watson fought off pressure to hold for 4-2, saving a break point with a brilliant backhand winner down the line.

The British player could not repeat the trick two games later, though, Keys' backhand doing the damage as she broke back for 4-4.

Watson held firm serving to stay in the match the first time but fortune was not on her side when she had to do so again.

A Keys shot dropped off the top of the net to make it 0-30, and moments later the American clinched victory with another lucky net cord.

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