No sooner had Laura Robson taken a leap up the world rankings than Heather Watson moved to close the gap on her fellow Briton with one of the best wins of her career.
Watson, the world No 78, beat Germany's Sabine Lisicki, the world No 30 and a former Wimbledon semi-finalist, 6-4, 7-6 at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo yesterday to earn a second-round meeting today with Russia's Maria Sharapova, the world No 2.
Lisicki, who was at a career-high No 12 in the world rankings four months ago, has one of the biggest serves in the women's game but Watson made regular inroads with the quality of her returns.
The 20-year-old from Guernsey, who came through qualifying to take her place in the main draw, made the only break of the first set when Lisicki served at 4-5 and responded well after the 23-year-old German broke to take an early advantage in the second.
Both players made two breaks of serve before the second set went to a tie-break, in which Watson quickly took control. The Briton, who had not won a match on the main tour since the Olympics, raced into a 6-1 lead and eventually secured victory on her third match point after an hour and 37 minutes.
While Watson dropped three places in yesterday's updated world rankings list, Robson rose 17 positions to a new career-high at No 57 following her run to the final in Guangzhou last week. Anne Keothavong, the British No 3, is now world No 80.
There was not such good news for James Ward, who has suffered a wrist injury which will keep him out for the rest of the year. The 25-year-old Briton has torn a tendon in his left wrist, which he fractured in a fall in the United States two months ago.
Ward was dropped to No 216 in the world rankings yesterday and has been overtaken by Josh Goodall, who rose two places to No 210 to become the British No 2. Dan Evans has risen to No 272 after winning three Futures tournaments in the last two months. He is now within 24 places of his career-high position in the world rankings, which he reached three years ago.Reuse content