After rallying from a set and a break deficit on the opening day of Australian Open 2013 on Monday, Heather Watson was asked what sort of person she was. “I’m one of these girls that’s never going to give up,” she said.
To comeback in such fashion once is pretty special. Twice, is remarkable. But that’s exactly what Watson did, saving three match points to beat Ksenia Pervak 4-6 7-6(7) 6-2 on Wednesday to reach the third round of the year’s first Grand Slam.
Much as she had on Monday, Watson looked out of sorts for much of the first set and a half. Forced to wait to play by Jerzy Janowicz’s four-hour long win over Somdev Devvarman, Watson was broken for 2-5, broke back for 4-4, but was broken again, her opponent taking the first set 6-4.
With her unforced errors costing her heavily, Watson found herself a break down again, early in the second set, trailing 0-2. But, much as she has before, and will continue to do so, she found something extra. Breaking back for 2-2, the plucky British No.1 sent the second set into a tie-break.
But that didn’t get any easier. Clinging on by the tips of her fingernails, she saved three match points, eventually sneaking the tie-break, and the second set, 9-7.
At that point, Pervak’s spirit was all but broken. A lengthy bathroom break later, the Kazakhstan player returned, only to surrender her serve immediately. As Watson romped to a 3-0, then 4-1 lead, the end clearly in her sights, there was little left to play for.
Sealing a famous victory, 6-2 in the third and completely spent, Watson could do nothing but beam. And sign autographs. Many of them.
Her reward is a third-round meeting with Agnieszka Radwanksa, the Wimbledon finalist and No.4 seed. Watson will be the heavy underdog, but her fitness is almost as fabled as Radwanksa. And the Pole knows it. “Great young player,” the Wimbledon finalist said, reminiscing about what she had to do to beat Watson at Wimbledon.
Let’s hope their next encounter is as enthralling.