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Watson is unable to end her losing run, while Becker defends Federer


Britain's Heather Watson fell to her eighth successive defeat on the WTA Tour as Slovakia's Anna Karolina Schmiedlova won 6-1 6-3 to reach the second round of the Prague Open.

Watson (25) has not won a WTA match since the quarter-finals of January's Hobart International. The British No.2's poor form has seen her slip to 79th in the rankings.

Schmiedlova (23) maintained her unbeaten start to the clay-court season after victory in Bogota earlier in April.

Ranked seven places below her opponent, wildcard Schmiedlova required just one hour and 26 minutes to beat Watson.

Meanwhile, six-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker has come to the defence of Roger Federer after he was criticised for skipping the clay court season.

Ion Tiriac, the 1970 French Open doubles champion and current host of the Madrid Open, took aim at Federer after the Swiss ace once again decided to skip the entire clay court season - his tournament included.

The Romanian businessman said earlier this month that Federer's pick-and-mix approach to tournaments would not be excused in any other elite sport.

"Lewis Hamilton does not just say no more after five Grands Prix in Formula One because he does not feel like it," Tiriac said.

But Becker said: "In principle, Tiriac is right when he says that players are not allowed to choose where to play and where not to.

"But Federer is in another league. He is the best ever. He is an unbelievable player. His decision should be understood."

Belfast Telegraph