Heather Watson and Dominika Cibulkova react after their entertaining game on centre court on Monday afternoon

Heather Watson says she felt the long game against Lesia Tsurenko on Sunday helped her as she beat reigning Eastbourne champion Dominika Cibulkova 7-5, 6-4 on centre court on Monday afternoon.

The British no.2 played some excellent tennis against the Ukrainian, Tsurenko on centre court on Sunday and she followed that up on Monday with some even more impressive tennis as she booked her place in the next round of the AEGON International.

Speaking about her victory, Watson said: “I think the long match yesterday really helped my form today. I didn’t feel tired or anything coming in today.”

Her all round game was pleasing on Monday as she looked to take the game to the usually aggressive Cibulkova. But her service game was also on point as she scored multiple aces throughout the match.

“I felt good on the court yesterday, but because of the windy conditions, it makes it a lot tougher to serve,” said Watson.

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“You know, you have to go for bigger targets because it’s harder to be precise when it’s windy. Today it wasn’t, so I just felt everything came together and I played really well,” said the 25-year-old.

Although Watson is from Guernsey, this year the Eastbourne crowd have seemingly taken a shine to her. Partly because of her good performances so far, but this year the fans support does feel a bit different compared to previous years.

“They’re really loud this year,” Watson said of the crowd. “Extra loud, I think. I love it. The atmosphere is great. I just am really enjoying playing at the moment,” concluded Watson.

Cibulkova says the games are not going her way as Watson causes an upset

This time last year, Cibulkova was en-route to Eastbourne victory, but on Monday she exited at the first round stage.

Reflecting on her loss, the world no. 9 said: “She was playing really, really well today. She was serving especially good. I made some mistakes.”

“I was trying to go for it, you know, and I was trying to be aggressive and play my game. She was just picking up the balls really well and defending,” said Cibulkova.

Although it wasn’t a pristine performance from the 28-year-old it wasn’t an entirely poor performance. The Slovakian was looking to force the game in the style that we have come accustomed to from Cibulkova, but it Watson was just having one of those days where she returned most things Cibulkova threw at her.

The task now is about trying to pick herself back up after what has been a difficult couple of weeks: “It’s more about being more confident or to get some matches on my side, and [then] it will be a different story. Because right now it feels like the situations go against me in the match, and it just doesn’t go my way,” said Cibulkova.

“I’m still trying to fight it, and I’m doing everything I can, practicing and working on the things I have to. I’m just waiting for the moment it’s going to turn around for me in one or two matches and it’s going to come back. [But] that’s tennis,” Cibulkova said after her 7-5, 6-4 loss.


Image credits – Getty Images  – Glyn Kirk

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