Day three lived up to the heightened expectations as the women’s main draw got underway with some truly spectacular tennis and with the men’s qualifying coming to a close today it means the AEGON International is bubbling along nicely as we enter what will be a big week of tennis.
But, day three belonged to Heather Watson and Lesia Tsurenko as they put on show in what was the game of the tournament of so far. The match was a pulsating affair, but in the end the British no.2 prevailed over the 34th ranked Ukrainian.
Elsewhere in the first round of the women’s event, Carlos Suarez Navarro beat former Eastbourne winner Ekaterina Makarova in straight sets, whilst American Alison Riske and Belgium player Elise Mertens both overcame their opponents Alize Cornet and Timea Babos respectively.
As the weather put pay to some of the final women qualifiers on Saturday, today in the games that overran Francesca Schiavone overcame Lauren Davis, whilst Varvara Lepchenko beat Risa Ozaki – but the Japanese Ozaki got a lucky loser’s spot in the main draw because of Daria Kasatkina withdrawing because of an ankle injury.
It wasn’t just about the women on Day three, Sunday also saw the conclusion of the men’s qualifying as Franko Skugor, Thomas Fabbiano and Nobert Gambos all booked their place in the main draw with some comprehensive victories.
Heather Watson steals the show as she wins an epic on centre court against Lesia Tsurenko
Watson progressed into the second round of the women’s event as she beat Tsurenko on centre court 3-6, 6-4, 4-6 in what was the best game of the tournament so far.
Prior to Watson’s and Tsurenko’s epic, the centre court spectators were treated to Suarez Navarro expertly dispatching Makarova. But today was all about Watson, as she showed poise, calmness and above all class to beat what was a spirited opponent in the shape of Tsurenko.
In the first set, both Watson and Tsurenko wowed the crowd with some absorbing tennis. But eventually it was Watson who navigated through the first set with a combination of superb tennis, but also determination and grit.
It wasn’t as if the 28-year-old Tsurenko was playing badly either, the Ukrainian wasn’t. But the British no.2 was just a fraction better in the opening set.Embed from Getty Images
Not only was it Watson’s tennis that was impressing, it was the way she was handling the tougher and tighter moments of the game. But above all, her play was certainly pleasing the crowd.
The range of shots was what was impressive from Watson in the opening set. She was looking to hit the baseline whenever she could, but when the opportunity arose to test Tsurenko at the net, she duly obliged. And with Tsurenko looking rather lacklustre in that department in the opening hour, Watson took control.
There was an argument to be had, that the second set wouldn’t have lived up to the first, but it did and more. It was Tsurenko that started the second set better, and after breaking Watson’s serve it looked as though the Ukrainian would go on to win the set. But Watson had other ideas midway through the set.
With the game delicately poised at 4-4, the 9th game was the pivotal one for Tsurenko as she looked to equal the match. The game bordered on 30 minutes long as both players were refusing to give up a break point.
The pressure in the air was palatable; as both players didn’t want to give up that all important break-point. They both knew how important it could be in their quest for winning the match. But eventually Tsurenko won the point and then closed out the set with some good play, winning it 6-4.
With the game going to the deciding set, both players were feeling the effects of what a truly energy sapping tie, but Watson again played some nice tennis, and when the game was again evenly poised in the deciding it was Watson who dealt with the tougher moments better.
But when Watson broke Tsurenko’s serve to put the set in her favour at 5-4, the Guernsey born player served out the set confidently as set up a tie with defending champion Dominika Cibulkova.
Speaking on centre court after her impressive victory, Watson said: “Thank you so much for supporting us today, the atmosphere was amazing. It was really tough; she did not give me anything. She’s a great mover and I knew that going in and I knew she would make me play that one extra ball.”
Full day three results:
- Carla Suarez Navarro beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 6-1
- Lauren Davis lost to Francesca Schiavone 3-6, 6-0, 6-1
- Ivan Dodig beat Steven Diez 3-6, 6-3, 7-5
- Varvara Lepchenko beat Risa Ozaki 6-4, 6-4
- Franko Skugor beat Jerzy Janowicz 7-6, 7-6
- Lesia Tsurenko lost to Heather Watson 3-6, 6-4, 4-6
- Alison Riske beat Alize Cornet 6-4, 7-5
- Thomas Fabbiano beat Ti Chen 6-1, 6-4
- Sorana Cirstea lost to Su-Wei Hsieh 6-7, 1-6
- Nobert Gambos beat Luke Bambridge 6-2, 6-2
- Mirjana Lucic-Baroni lost to Monica Niculescu 4-6, 7-5, 5-7
- Timea Babos lost to Elise Mertens 1-6, 1-6
- Andreja Klepac & Maria Jose Martinez Sachez lost to Timea Bacsinszky & Svetlana Kuzentsova 4-6, 7-5, 7-10
- Andrey Kuznetsov lost to Franko Skugor 6-2, 4-6, 4-6
- Yulia Putintseva lost to Lara Arruabarrena 4-6, 7-6, 1-2
Image credits – Getty Images – Charlie Crowhurst