Robson and Watson win to close on top 100 places

 

Anne Keothavong and Elena Baltacha will not give up their positions at the top without a fight, but the Aegon International at Eastbourne is witnessing a changing of the guard in British women's tennis.

While Keothavong was beaten in the first round by Daniela Hantuchova and Baltacha withdrew from the qualifying competition with a neck injury, Laura Robson and Heather Watson both won their opening matches at Devonshire Park yesterday.

Robson, who came through qualifying to make the main draw, beat Spain's Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, the world No 49, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 to earn a second-round meeting with Ekaterina Makarova, and Watson will face Lucie Safarova after beating Hungary's Greta Arn, the world No 106, 6-3, 6-4.

The results could see both Britons move into the world's top 100 next week ahead of Baltacha, who recently lost her position as the highest-ranked Briton and fell to No 101 in this week's updated list. Watson is currently No 110 and Robson No 111, with Keothavong the highest-ranked of the home players at No 77.

On a day of upsets, the top three women's seeds at Eastbourne all lost. Petra Kvitova, the Wimbledon champion, was beaten 7-5, 6-4 by Makarova, Agnieszka Radwanska, the world No 3, lost 6-2, 6-4 to Tsvetana Pironkova and Caroline Wozniacki, the former world No 1, was beaten 6-1, 6-7, 6-4 by Christina McHale.

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