Watson battles through to second round

Heather Watson delivers a forehead return during her spirited first-round victory in Australia (AP)

Heather Watson delivers a forehead return during her spirited first-round victory in Australia (AP)

First published in National Sport News © by

British number one Heather Watson was made to dig deep before overcoming Alexandra Cadantu and securing a place in the second round of the Australian Open.

For a set and a half, Watson was second best in a low-quality encounter not helped by the blustery conditions on court 13.

But, after both players were treated by medical staff during a lengthy stoppage, the 20-year-old from Guernsey appeared revitalised, cruising through the remainder of the match to go through 2-6 6-3 6-2.

Watson's opening-point double fault set the tone in the early stages with Cadantu's greater ambition earning her the majority of the points although she was helped by an alarming number of errors from the Briton. Although Watson cancelled out an early break, Cadantu claimed her opponent's serve twice more to take the opening set.

And when a further break enabled Cadantu to establish a 3-1 lead in the second it looked as though the Romanian, ranked 41 places below Watson at 91 in the world, was in the box seat.

But having secured a vital hold, during which she called for the trainer, Watson was examined for an unspecified injury. Cadantu also took the opportunity to see the doctor with the delay lasting for over 15 minutes.

The hold-up stalled the Romanian's momentum as it was one-way traffic when play resumed. Cadantu won just four points in the next four games as Watson levelled the match in emphatic fashion.

The largely British crowd sensed Watson was gaining the upper hand and they were proved correct when she ran through the decider, displaying far greater control on her ground strokes to advance to a meeting with either Mona Barthel or Ksenia Pervak.

Watson confirmed later that the injury time-out had come to her rescue after she started the match drained of energy and feeling faint.

"It did help me," she said. "It gave me time to eat, get some fuel in me and just get recharged and motivated. At the beginning I definitely wasn't there, I wasn't playing well. I didn't have much energy today, I don't know what it was. I am going to see the doctor after."

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