Heather Watson blown away after cloudburst
Two months after becoming the first British woman for 10 years to reach the third round at Wimbledon, Heather Watson lasted just 81 minutes on the first day of the US Open here yesterday.
The 20-year-old from Guernsey, who was overpowered 6-2, 6-3 by China's Li Na, held on until mid-afternoon thanks only to a lengthy rain delay.
If Watson took advantage of a favourable draw at the All England Club – her first two opponents were both ranked outside the world's top 50 –fortune was not on her side here. Li, the world No 8, has been the outstanding player on the north American hard-court circuit this summer, reaching the final at Montreal and then winning at Cincinnati to secure her first title since last year's French Open.
She had too much firepower for Watson, who never looked like threatening the 30-year-old Chinese in the way she had troubled Maria Sharapova last year, when the Briton went within six points of causing one of the shocks of the tournament. Striking the ball beautifully from the back of the court, Li cracked 28 winners to Watson's 10 and broke serve five times.
At least it will not be the end of the tournament for Watson, who is playing doubles here with New Zealand's Marina Erakovic. They have won two doubles titles together this summer, in Stanford and Dallas.
Li has recently teamed up with Carlos Rodriguez, who was Justine Henin's long-time coach. Rodriguez, who had said on the Belgian's retirement that he could not imagine coaching any other player, has been working at an academy in Beijing for the last two years.
The association has brought immediate success and Li's renewed confidence was evident in her ball-striking. Watson, who at No 71 is the world's highest-ranked British woman, kept up with the pace for four games, but from 2-2 Li put her foot on the accelerator, winning four games in a row to take the first set in 36 minutes.
Watson made an early break in the second set to lead 3-1 but did not win another game. A swift finish looked likely until rain started to fall with Watson trailing 5-3. The subsequent interruption of nearly three hours only delayed the inevitable. Watson won just one more point on the resumption before Li closed out victory.
"I'm happy with how I played," Watson said afterwards. "I even feel I played better today than I did last year against Maria. I don't think it was Maria's best match last year, but today Li Na was on another level. She was hitting winners off balls I wouldn't think you could hit winners off, hitting lots of lines. She had a really high first-serve percentage and she just played better tennis. She played like a Grand Slam champion."
On a bad day for German tennis, Julia Goerges and Sabine Lisicki, who are both seeded, lost to the Czech Republic's Kristyna Pliskova and Romania's Sorana Cirstea respectively. Another German, Andrea Petkovic, who was in the world's top 10 last year but has been troubled by injury, was beaten by Switzerland's Romina Oprandi.
Cristiano Ronaldo pays €60,000 for brain operation for 10-month-old boy
Bayern Munich 1 Arsenal 1 match report: Lukas Podolski goal fails to inspire comeback at the Allianz Arena as Gunners are knocked out of Champions League
Michael Schumacher 'experience' gives F1 legend chance to 'show his character', says Lewis Hamilton
The 10 funniest football chants revealed, with poll naming West Ham supporters as 'wittiest in the country'
Barcelona 2 Manchester City 1 match report: Lionel Messi and Dani Alves on target as Pablo Zabaleta sees red and City exit Champions League
- 2 Arrest made after man is found by the side of the road with his penis cut off
- 3 Michael Schumacher 'experience' gives F1 legend chance to 'show his character', says Lewis Hamilton
- 4 Girl found in the Amazon rainforest with neighbour Grover Morales after going missing for 7 months
- 5 Disney's Frozen is 'very evil' gay propaganda, says Christian pastor
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say
How climate change helped Genghis Khan: Scientists believe a sudden period of warmer weather allowed the Mongols to invade with such success