Brit special! Watson dumps Safarova out in Miami with career best performance
21:50 GMT, 23 March 2012
British teenager Heather Watson followed up the best comeback of her career with her finest victory to date when she beat world No 25 Lucie Safarova to join Andy Murray in the third round of the Sony Ericsson Open.
Having got through by recovering from 0-5 down in the deciding set of her first match, the 19 year-old Channel Islander dismissed the Czech lefthander, sometimes compared to Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, 6-2 6-1 in steaming humidity.
Reaching for the stars: Heather Watson produced a career best performance in the second round of the Miami Open
British No 4 Watson, who now has the toughest task in women’s tennis as she faces world No 1 Victoria Azarenka, who has yet to lose this season and is on a 24-match unbeaten streak.
The Guernsey player, an outstanding natural athlete, showed the value of having Florida as a training base by handling the heat far better than the vastly more experienced Safarova.
Having broken into the top 100 last year
Watson had a difficult start to the season which has seen her fall to
129 in the rankings, struggling with an ankle injury caused by playing
football back in December.
Down and out: Lucie Safarova
'I found my first match very emotional after the tough year that I’ve had with my ankle, I’m definitely quitting football,' she said. 'It was so hot and in the second set we were both ready to fall over.
'I told myself that if I’m feeling bad she must be feeling bad as well. I just kept trying to make her play an extra ball. I've got nothing to lose when I play my next match, I can relax.'
Watson's movement is her outstanding feature, so anything that jeopardises that, such as the left ankle problem, will have a major effect.
In the full blast of the afternoon sunshine she always looked more comfortable than the Czech, who is an impressive ball striker but not the same quality of athlete.
Watson served especially well and returned her opponent’s powerful efforts, and demoralised her with the ability to make balls that some others simply cannot reach. It is this, plus her combative attitude, that marks her out as having the potential for a very solid career.
Safarova’s head dropped at the end of both sets, and she could not capitalise on an early break in the second, too often broken down by the younger player’s stalwart defence.