Watson shows early promise after step up to the big time

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The Independent Online

Heather Watson, who won the US Open girls' title last summer, is concentrating on her senior career from now on, despite the fact that she could still compete in junior events this year.

The transition into senior tennis is not always easy, but the 18-year-old from Guernsey has made a promising start. Having beaten a top 100 player for the first time in the second round of qualifying for this week's Aegon Championships here at Devonshire Park, Watson yesterday added the scalp of Serbia's Bojana Jovanovski to earn a place in the main draw.

Watson won 6-1, 1-6, 6-1 and showed maturity in the way she recovered from a poor second set. In the end Jovanovski, the world No 108, had no answer to Watson's athleticism and coolness under pressure. In the second round Watson had knocked out the No 3 seed in qualifying, Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova.

Having spent most of her teenage years training at the Nick Bollettieri academy in Bradenton, Florida, Watson intends to stay in the States for the time being, despite completing her academic education. She has been playing more regularly on the senior circuit this year and qualified for one previous main tour event in Charleston. She is now up to No 344 in the world rankings and has been given a wild card to play at Wimbledon.

Anne Keothavong was the only other home player in singles action on the second day of the tournament. The former British No 1 had a tough draw and was beaten 6-4, 6-2 by Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova.

Qualifying for Wimbledon, which begins next Monday, opened at Roehampton. The British No 2, Alex Bogdanovic, who has not been given a wild card this year after eight successive first-round failures, won his first match, beating Brazil's Ricardo Hocevar 6-3, 7-6. The 26-year-old broke in the eighth game of the opening set and then came back from a break down in the second before clinching victory in a tie-break.

He now faces a tough challenge against France's Nicolas Mahut, a proven performer on grass.

Five other Britons were eliminated, but Dan Evans and Josh Goodall both progressed. Evans came from a set down to beat Tim Smyczek, of the United States, 4-6, 6-1, 12-10, while Goodall beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3, 6-4. Evans now takes on Ricardas Berankis, the world No 155, who beat him three months ago in Lithuania's Davis Cup victory over Britain.

Chris Eaton, who came through qualifying to reach the second round in 2008, can count himself somewhat unlucky after losing out 4-6, 6-3, 10-8 to Roko Karanusic. There were also defeats for Daniel Cox, David Rice, Josh Milton and Alex Ward.