End of the road for brave Heather: Fourth seed Radwanska outclasses Watson in third
01:58 GMT, 18 January 2013
03:08 GMT, 18 January 2013
There was to be no repetition of the Wimbledon wipeout suffered against the same player in the same round, but Heather Watson could not save herself from bowing out of the Australian Open third round.
Despite a much-improved performance compared to SW19 in June – reflecting the improvements she has made in her game – Watson was beaten 6-3, 6-1 in 84 minutes by fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska.
It was a somewhat harsh scoreline and the British number one could have doubled her tally of games with a little more composure at the right time, but the Pole was always good value for her victory.
Over and out: Heather Watson was beaten in the third round by Agnieszka Radwanska
Consolation for Watson is that from her ranking of 50 she will go into the low forties, and has made a decent start towards her season’s goal of getting into the mid twenties. She and Laura Robson, the first two British players in the third round of a Grand Slam since 1991, have shown they belong in the top half century of players.
Barely ten hours after Robson had epically upset former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova on the Rod Laver Arena, they were across Melbourne Park on the Hisense Arena, the venue’s secondary stadium.
It was mid morning rather than past midnight and the weather was also very different, the famously changeable Melbourne climate swapping desert heat for much more overcast, cooler and windier conditions.
Winning feeling: Agnieszka Radwanska won in straight sets against Watson
Priority One for Watson was to avoid the slow starts she had in the first two rounds, and the first set blowout she had against the Pole in Wimbledon’s third round, when she went down 6-0 in 24 minutes before losing the second 6-2.
Watson has said that the Wimbledon result ‘killed me’, and she might not be much more pleased with the numerical outcome of this, although it was definitely a better performance and one in which her more cautious sense of adventure was not always rewarded with good fortune.
She came out much quicker this time and started the better of the two, forcing two break points, missing the second with a forehand against a player you simply cannot afford to give second chances to.
Starting well: Watson did well at the start of the first set
Radwanska is an antidote to the biff bash school of women’s tennis that predominates, and sometimes gets mentioned in the same breath as Martina Hingis. She cleverly constructs rallies and opens up the court intelligently, relying on guile more than brute force.
At Wimbledon Watson attacked, headless-chicken style, but this time she was more prudent and sought to get to the net when she could, but the beaten SW19 finalist was always a little too solid.
Mixed emotions: Radwanska celebrates her win as Watson looks dejected
After the disappointment of the fourth game Radwanska broke for 3-2, and then more decisively for 5-2, when the 20 year-old Channel Islander served a double fault and failed to get a point. Breaks were then traded for the set to be taken in 36 minutes.
The second was more processional, at least until a drizzle break caused the roof to be closed at 3-0. Watson paid at times for her overheads not being more punishing, and her opponent scrambled every lost cause admirably. There was a consolation game at 5-0 and should have been another after that.
Time for treatment: Radwanska gets medical attention during a break in her win over Watson
Watson could have served better, managing only 51 per cent of first deliveries in and knows she has to continue working on that aspect. But she has shown more strong resolve in this tournament to pluck two wins out of the fire, and can progress further from here.
All over: Radwanska is congratulated by Watson