Australian Open: Heather Watson beats Irina Falconi to join Laura Robson and Andy Murray in Grand Slam main draw

21-year-old had to qualify for the tournament and triumphed 6-4 7-6 (7-1) to progress to the main draw

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The Independent Online

Heather Watson joined Laura Robson in the main draw of the Australian Open after claiming a tense 6-4 7-6 (7/1) victory over America's Irina Falconi in the final round of qualifying.

The 21-year-old found herself having to qualify for a grand slam for the first time since the French Open in 2012 following her battle with glandular fever last year.

Watson admitted to nerves after her first-round win because of her desperation to come through the three matches, and it was a similar story against Falconi.

The British number three looked the better player throughout the match but struggled to take her opportunities.

She broke serve to lead 5-3 in the opening set and held two set points on her own serve only for Falconi to hit back. Two more set points went begging in the next game before a double fault from the American decided it.

Watson hit back from an early break down in the second set and had two match points at 5-4 but overcooked her shots both times.

She had no such problems in the tie-break, though, winning seven points in a row to clinch victory after two hours and three minutes.

It is the first time Watson has qualified at the Australian Open, matching her achievement at the French Open, where she has done it twice.

The Guernsey player still has a lot to do if she is to repeat last year's performance, though, when she reached the third round.

Watson joins Robson and Andy Murray in the main draw, the only one of six British players to make it through qualifying.