Twelve months after becoming the first British woman for 28 years to win through the French Open qualifying tournament, Heather Watson did so again yesterday in thoroughly convincing fashion. The 20-year-old from Guernsey won her third qualifying match in succession, beating Italy's Anna Floris 6-0, 6-1.
Watson will join her fellow Britons, Elena Baltacha and Anne Keothavong, in the main draw, but Laura Robson fell agonisingly short in the final round of qualifying. The 2008 junior Wimbledon champion, who was attempting to qualify for her third Grand Slam tournament in succession, had two match points before losing 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 to the Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova.
Twelve months ago Watson followed up her run in the qualifying tournament by becoming the first British woman to win a match in the main draw here for 17 years. She will not be short of confidence after overwhelming Floris. "I love Paris and I love playing on the clay, it's perfect for me," Watson said. "These past few days have been good. I've been on form, played very well in practice and I just wanted to take that into the matches. I've done that. This morning I wasn't feeling my best, feeling a bit nervous about getting through, but ended up playing one of the best matches I could have played.
"I've definitely been working on my serve quite a lot, making that stronger and trying to improve that, and making it into one of my weapons. My serve has been in and out. It lacks a bit of consistency. Now I've found my range and know what I need to do.
"It's nice to have a go-to shot you know you are going to make and you are feeling confident with. I love these courts. They are the best in the world. The mornings have been muggy and damp and the balls heavier and slower, so I had to change the tension of my racket this morning by 5lbs and it made a big difference."
She added: "Now I've qualified for a second year in a row, I feel I belong a bit more. I came into this tournament wanting to go far, to make the second week. I didn't just come for a few rounds. I'll fight for every point because they're not going to give anything to me – and I don't intend to give anything to them."
Watson, the world No 109, will play Elena Vesnina, the world No 80, in the main draw. The 25-year-old Russian won their only previous meeting, on clay at Charleston two years ago, but has won only one match in her six previous appearances here.
Robson had fought back from a set down to force a decider, in which she served for the match at 5-4, only to put two backhands in the net on her two match points. Pliskova, who beat Robson in the girls' final at the 2010 Australian Open, took the match by winning the last four games.
Baltacha, the world No 67, has a tough draw against Australia's Sam Stosur, a former finalist here and currently the world No 6. Keothavong faces Hungary's Melinda Czink who, at No 116, lies 40 places beneath the Briton in the world rankings.