Watson brushed aside by world No 1 Azarenka in Miami but the future looks bright
04:33 GMT, 26 March 2012
Heather Watson was given her second high-profile lesson of the season by world No 1 Victoria Azarenka, going down to a defeat here that was close to a carbon copy of their meeting at the Australian Open in January.
In Melbourne the 19-year-old from Guernsey managed only one game, but in this, the third round of the Sony Ericsson Open, she doubled that tally and did enough to show why her career is heading in the right direction.
Beaten: The players embrace after the match
Watson lost 6-0 6-2 to the player who
has so far been unbeaten in 2012 and is now sitting on a 25-match
winning streak. It is no disgrace to lose to her in the present rich
vein of form and overall it has been a very positive week for the
British No 4, who had a tough start to the season thanks largely to
niggling ankle problems.
She came back from 0-5 down in the deciding set of her opening match to win, and then knocked out world No 25 Lucie Safarova in the second.
Facing Azarenka seemed scant reward, even if it was a chance to measure herself against the best on another of the circuit’s major show courts.
In terms of points won Watson did pretty well for someone outside the world’s top 100, going down 63-38, but as in Australia she was unable to close out many games when the opportunity presented itself.
World No 1: Azarenka made light work of Watson
Again she showed the ability to run down
plenty of balls due to her excellent movement around the court, but
more than that is needed to disrupt the very best like Azarenka, and at
present there is not the power on the serve or in the groundstrokes to
gain many free points.
But that will hopefully come, and Watson is nothing if not a battler. She started brightly enough and the first game lasted eleven minutes before succumbing to her opponent’s superior armoury. After that it became much harder on a balmy evening under the floodlights of Crandon Park and when Azarenka moved to a 3-0 lead in the second set she had won 21 consecutive games against the Channel Islander going back to Australia.
On the up: Watson is closing in on the top 100
The tactic of throwing in some moonballs after an on-court visit from coach Mauricio Hadad started to pay a few dividends and when Watson got off the mark with her first game for 1-3 Azarenka rather gracelessly slammed the ball into the far back fence in her annoyance. Another game made the scoreline respectable and there was the chance of a third before the Australian Open champion closed things out shortly before 10.30pm local time.
Watson could at least console herself with the fact that her relatively flat start to the season is behind her, and the knowledge that she is heading back towards a double digit ranking.