Watson to move out from Robson's shadow


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Just three weeks after Laura Robson became the first Briton for 22 years to reach a final on the main women's tour, Heather Watson moved within one victory of her first final yesterday. The 20-year-old from Guernsey beat France's Pauline Parmentier 7-5, 6-3 in the Japan Open at Osaka to earn a semi-final today against Japan's Misaki Doi.

While Robson lost 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 to Chang Kai-Chen, of Chinese Taipei, Watson produced a dogged performance to beat Parmentier, ranked two places lower than her at No 73 in the world. Of the 21 games played, 12 went against serve, but Watson made the last break to complete victory in almost two hours.

Watson and her partner, Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm, are also through to the semi-finals of the doubles. They meet Anabel Medina Garrigues and Jie Zheng today.

Having become the first British woman to win a match on Centre Court at Wimbledon for 27 years this summer, Watson has since been overshadowed by Robson, who knocked out two Grand Slam champions en route to the fourth round of the US Open and went on to reach the final of the WTA tournament in Guangzhou, China.

After Wimbledon Watson failed to win two matches in a row until she came to Asia last month. She then qualified for a tournament in Tokyo, where she went on to beat Sabine Lisicki in the first round, win one match at last week's China Open and followed that up with good results in Osaka. She is set to break into the world's top 60 for the first time in next week's updated world rankings list.

Doi, 21, who has lost to Watson in both their previous meetings, has never made the world's top 100 and is currently ranked No 123. In the other semi-final Chang faces the world No 9, Australia's Sam Stosur, who is the top seed.