Australian Open: Heather Watson into second round but Dan Evans loses

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2020 Australian Open
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 20 January to 2 February
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and online; Live text on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app.

Britain’s Heather Watson showed tremendous fight to reach the Australian Open second round before Dan Evans missed out on the chance of a potential meeting with Novak Djokovic.

Watson, ranked 75th, won 4-6 6-3 6-1 in blustery conditions against Czech Kristyna Pliskova.

British number one Evans, seeded 30th, lost 6-4 6-3 6-4 to Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in his second-round match.

Watson and Harriet Dart are the only remaining Britons in the singles draws.

Watson will meet Belgian 16th seed Elise Mertens for the second time in a week after winning their Hobart International quarter-final last Thursday.

Watson weathers the wind to win

After beating Pliskova, Watson said having played in similar conditions in Hobart last week – and growing up in windy Guernsey – had stood her in good stead.

“It was super windy today but I felt prepared because it was like that in Hobart a lot of the days,” the 27-year-old said.

“But being a first-round match and being postponed I felt a bit nervous in that first set and a bit tense.

“I managed to loosen up, relax and enjoy the match.”

Mertens beat Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic later on Wednesday as, like Watson, she had to come back a day later as a consequence of the backlog of matches caused by Monday’s rain washout.

Watson has not enjoyed many victories in the Grand Slams recently, showing her pleasure at digging in and beating 65th-ranked Pliskova with a wide smile and tight clenched fist towards her box.

The Briton had won only one match in her last six appearances in the main draw in Melbourne but had come here in good form after her Hobart performances.

In difficult conditions in which both players struggled at times with their ball toss, Watson eventually dealt with them better as Pliskova – twin sister of second seed Karolina – began to show her frustration.

Watson’s service game improved as the match wore on and she continued to hit a steady stream of winners to to clinch an impressive victory.

“I don’t mind the wind and with the way I play – a lot of slice, drops shots, change-of-pace balls – I think it works well. And I’m patient,” she said.

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