22 January 2020

Heather Watson keeps the British flag flying as she fights back from a set down to beat Czech Kristyna Plíšková at Australian Open while Dan Evans crashes out to Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka

Britain's No 2 Heather Watson has secured her place in the second round of the Australian Open after fighting back from losing the first set to beat Czech player Kristyna Plíšková and set up a second round meeting with Belgium's Elise Mertens.

In blustery conditions, the 27-year-old, ranked 75th in the world, weathered the storm after agonisingly losing the first set. 

The set was in the balance until the Czech broke serve in the fifth game and backed it up by holding her own serve. With no further breaks in the set it was Plíšková who took it 6-4.

Unperturbed, Watson fought back in the second, crucially breaking serve in the eighth game before holding her nerve to see out the set, taking it 6-3, closing it out with an ace.

She maintained momentum into the third set and came out all guns blazing, speeding to a double-break advantage and quickly taking it 6-1 to book her place in the second round.

Her next opponent is 16th seed Elise Mertens from Belgium, whom she beat in the quarter-final at the Hobart International last week.

After a weather-induced delay, Watson's mature performance impressed fans and keeps the British hopes high.

The British star said her experience in Hobart helped her: "It was super windy today but I felt prepared because it was like that in Hobart a lot of the days,"

She acknowledged her shortcomings in the first set, adding: "But being a first-round match and being postponed I felt a bit nervous in that first set and a bit tense. I managed to loosen up, relax and enjoy the match."

Watson and Harriet Dart, who won an exhilerating first round match against Misaki Doi are now the only two British females left in the draw. Dart will meet Wimbledon champion Simona Halep in her second round match on Thursday.

Elsewhere, British No 1 men's player Dan Evans could not rally as he lost in straight sets (6-4 6-3 6-4) to Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka in his second-round match.

Nishioka will now play defending champion Novak Djokovic, who breezed past Nishioka's compatriot Tatsuma Ito 6-1 6-4 6-2.

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