Laura Robson defeats Heather Watson in all-British battle

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Laura Robson came out on top in a battle of the Brits as she knocked out Heather Watson 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in the AEGON Pro-Series tournament in Barnstaple.

The friends who had never played each other in a singles match before had both come through the first round in contrasting circumstances.

Robson, 17, struggled against her opponent Johanna Konta from Australia, losing the first set 3-6 before Konta retired hurt in the second.

Watson, 19, breezed through her tie against Amanda Elliot, winning 6-0, 6-1, so it was somewhat surprising when she began the match lethargically against a rejuvinated Robson.

Robson, ranked 137th in the world, was serving with purpose and accuracy and wowed the crowd with some sensationally aggressive tennis.

Watson, ranked 87th, had no answer and was clearly frustrated with her inability to return the ball and engage in any meaningful rally. Her serve wasn't causing any real problems and the first set was gone in short order.

After taking the first set with ease, Robson broke straight away in the second, and it looked like it could be a disappointingly short match for the crowd who were packed round the edge of a small, but lively arena.

However, Watson composed herself, and some impressive base line rallying underlined by gritty determination, saw her break back.

Unlike the first set, some breath taking rallies and enthralling athleticism led to a tense period, with one player sensing victory and another fighting for her tournament life.

Frustration was starting to creep in to Robson's game and she vented some of her anger at the umpire after a questionable line call.

It was Watson who prevailed, breaking and serving out to level the match and set up an intriguing finale.

The first four games of the final set encapsulated the level of competition between the two Brits, with three being won from deuce.

Fitness levels were beginning to tell but the contest remained fierce.

It was ultimately decided after a game locked at deuce was finally won by Robson, who then won her next two service games to win an exciting contest.

Robson was delighted after the win, but was not surprised that she was made to work for it after a straight forward start.

"I started really well but I knew that Heather was always going to come back into the match".

Having been laid off with injury recently, the young pro was pleased that hard work in training had paid dividends.

"I have done a lot of training for this tournament and I am pleased with the consistency of my first serve. It is definitely something I have been working on".

Robson and Watson will pair up for a doubles match later this afternoon against Maria Joao Koehler and Katalin Marosi.