British Number Twos Aljaz Bedene and Heather Watson both qualified for the ATP Masters 1000 and WTA Premier 5 events this week after final qualifying round victories earlier today, while Naomi Broady fell in the last qualifying round to Christina McHale, who had beaten Laura Robson in the first round.
Gutsy win in 3 sets for Heather Watson over Ana Konjiuh to qualify for Rome main draw. She's right on the cut mark for Olympic qualification
— Russell Fuller (@russellcfuller) May 8, 2016
Bedene, who just missed out on a direct entry into the main draw and as such was seeded second in qualifying, came past Italian wildcard and world #476 4-6 6-3 6-1 in the first qualifying round, but not without coming through a major scare in the process. The Italian led by a set and a break at 3-1 in the second set, before Bedene rallied to win eleven of the next twelve games to secure his progress and avoid a shock defeat.
The Brit today faced Frenchman Kenny De Schepper and found the going a lot less tough, not facing a single break point all match en route to a comfortable 6-3 6-3 victory, serving 81% of first serves into play and winning 67% of second serve points. The Brit will now play fellow qualifier Stephane Robert of France in the first round proper. The pair have met three times before, with their most recent meeting coming on clay back in 2014, which Bedene won from a set down.
In Women’s qualifying, Laura Robson was the only lady to exit in the first round of qualifying after a decent if unspectacular performance against fifth seed Christina McHale, with the recovering Brit going down 6-4 6-2. Broady, who is not known for her prowess on clay, will be happy to have secured a 6-3 6-2 victory over 11th seed Saisai Zheng of China in the first qualifying round, but also fell victim to McHale in the final qualifying round today, losing 6-4 3-6 6-1.
That just left Watson, seeded third in the qualifying draw, and the Brit made no mistake with a couple of tightly fought three-set victories. The Brit made heavy weather of Italian wildcard and world #311 Nastassja Burnett, winning 6-3 2-6 6-3 in a first round match that had 23 break points, before an even tighter encounter against 16th seed Anna Konjuh of Croatia saw Watson squeeze into the main draw 7-5 4-6 6-3. Watson will play 14th seed Sara Errani, another Italian, in the main draw proper, while Johanna Konta plays Swedish qualifier Johanna Larsson.