French repeat not so elementary for Watson


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The Independent Online

It has not been the easiest of seasons for Heather Watson, but Britain's former US Open junior champion is hoping to revive memories of her good run at last year's French Open.

Twelve months after becoming the first British woman for 17 years to reach the second round at Roland Garros, Watson made a confident start to her campaign at this year's tournament when she beat Canada's Sharon Fichman 6-1, 6-2 in the first round of qualifying yesterday.

Watson, who now meets Tunisia's Ons Jabeur, came through three rounds of qualifying last year, beat France's Stephanie Foretz Gacon in the first round and lost in the second to Kaia Kanepi. The run took her into the world's top 100 for the first time, but she slipped down the rankings this year after suffering an ankle injury.

Although she lost first time out, to Kristina Mladenovic, in her most recent tournament, Watson has had some encouraging results on clay this season and is up to No 109 in the rankings. In particular she won four matches in Estoril before losing to Petra Cetkovska, the world No 26.

Laura Robson, a former junior Wimbledon champion, will join Watson in the second round of qualifying after beating Spain's Estrella Cabeza Candela 6-2, 7-6. Robson now plays France's Laura Thorpe.

Naomi Broady, the world No 195, was given a tough draw against Kazakhstan's Sesil Karatantcheva, the world No 125 and a former French Open quarter-finalist – the Briton lost 0-6, 1-6. Elena Baltacha and Anne Keothavong, the British No 1 and No 2 respectively, go straight into the main draw due to their rankings.

Jamie Baker was the only British man to reach the second qualifying round – he lost 6-4, 6-3 to Spain's Daniel Munoz-De La Nava yesterday.