Heather Watson and Johanna Konta both secured first round victories at the WTA Premier 5 event in Rome, Italy yesterday and today, but at the corresponding ATP Masters 1000 taking place in conjunction, qualifier Aljaz Bedene couldn’t get past French veteran Stephane Robert, losing two tiebreaks.
— British Tennis (@BritishTennis) May 9, 2016
The story of the day yesterday was qualifier Heather Watson’s hugely impressive victory over Italian 14th seed Sara Errani. With Errani ranked 18th in the world, Watson’s victory was her year-best rankings scalp, and the victory occurred despite the Italian serving 91% of her first serves in; Watson was still able to break serve eight times throughout the match, and aside from the second set in which she took her foot off the pedal slightly, the Brit was in total control throughout the match, especially in the deciding set.
Watson pressurised the second serve, when it came, to win 71% of second serve return points, and Errani faltered at the crucial moments, failing to convert five games from game point positions. Eventually, the Brit ran away with the final set, triumphing 6-4 3-6 6-0 to set up a clash with Czech Barbora Strycova in the second round. The pair have met twice before, winning one apiece.
Earlier today, unseeded Johanna Konta swept past Swedish qualifier Johanna Larsson far more easily than many expected. The world #22 dominated the match, winning 78% of big points, 83% of the break point chanced she created and eventually conceding just three games in a 6-1 6-2 win. Konta now faces up to Italian 7th seed Roberta Vinci, whose form this year is patchy to say the least, with 16 wins and 12 defeats – although the Italian did pick up a WTA Premier title in St Petersburg in February. Konta will fancy her chances against the ageing Italian.
“Is it just me, or does it seem that Aljaz’s downturn in form seems to have coincided with the ITF decision to refuse him the right to play DC for Team GB. It is almost as though that decision has knocked the stuffing out of him and he can hardly buy a win at the moment.” – Bob in Spain, British Tennis Forums
Finally, Aljaz Bedene fell victim to two tiebreak defeats in his match against Frenchman Stephane Robert in the first round proper. Bedene had set points in both sets – four in the second – before Robert eventually prevailed 7-6(3) 7-6(8). The defeat for Bedene once again establishes his ability to hold serve but his inability to break it – the Brit has been involved in 15 tiebreaks so far in 2016, winning eight and losing seven. With Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans both making huge strides towards the top 50, how much longer will Bedene be considered Britain’s second best player?