Heather Watson’s defence of Japan Open title ends at first hurdle


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The Independent Online

Heather Watson’s year to forget took another turn for the worse yesterday when she was beaten 6-4, 6-4 by Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig, the world No 48, as the Briton began the defence of her Japan Open title in Osaka.

Having already slipped to No 92 in the world rankings, Watson will drop out of the top 100 in next week’s updated list.

She dropped her serve five times in the match, which lasted just over an hour and a half. The Briton has won just two of her last 11 matches.

Little has gone right for Watson since she became the first British woman to win a title on the main Women’s Association Tour for 24 years with her triumph in Osaka 12 months ago. That helped her move up to a career-high No 39 in the world rankings early this year, but her season rapidly went downhill when she was diagnosed with glandular fever.

Watson was off the court for two months but returned at the French Open. However, she has never looked back to her best and there have been times when she has had to go easy on her training.