Wat­son left with up­hill task in bid for vic­tory

The Herald - Herald Sport - - TENNIS, SWIMMING - HAY­LEY MILNE

HEATHER WAT­SON has plenty of work to do to reach the sec­ond round of the French Open after rain in­ter­rupted her match against Ni­cole Gibbs at Roland Gar­ros.

The play­ers re­turned to Court 3 after a near three-hour rain break with Gibbs lead­ing by a set, but Wat­son found her form to level in less than 10 min­utes.

How­ever, it was the Amer­i­can who had the bet­ter of the re­main­ing play and will re­sume to­day lead­ing by a break at 7-5, 2-6, 2-1.

Wat­son de­clared her­self happy with her form go­ing into the tour­na­ment, but she has been car­ry­ing the ex­tra pres­sure of try­ing to se­cure her place at the Rio Olympics. At 54 in the stand­ings, the Bri­tish No 2 should be safe, but vic­tory over Gibbs, who is her dou­bles part­ner this week, would make sure.

Pe­tra Kvi­tova, mean­while, sur­vived a ma­jor scare to reach the sec­ond round.

The 10th seed and two-time Wim­ble­don cham­pion was cruis­ing at a set and 3-0 up on Mon­tene­gro’s Danka Kovinic, but had to dig deep to come through 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.

In damp and heavy con­di­tions, Kvi­tova found her­self star­ing down the bar­rel when Kovinic, ranked 57 in the world, served for the match at 5-4 in the de­cider. How­ever, Kvi­tova, no stranger to long matches, found her form just in time to come through after two hours and 16 min­utes.

More play was pos­si­ble than a mis­er­able fore­cast had sug­gested, but fewer than a third of matches were com­pleted.

Last year’s run­ner-up, Lu­cie Sa­farova, was in­ter­rupted by a lengthy rain break, but did not let that af­fect her as she eased past Vi­talia Di­atchenko 6-0, 6-2.

Laura Rob­son, mean­while, re­mains con­vinced her ten­nis dreams are still achiev­able. Ever since she won the Wim­ble­don ju­nior ti­tle aged 14, great things have been ex­pected of her but, eight years later, she goes into the French Open as the low­est-ranked player in the draw.

Rob­son is us­ing her pro­tected rank­ing of 58 to play in Paris, but is cur­rently rated the 329th-best player in the world.

“There’s no rea­son why I can’t get back to where I was, if not bet­ter,” said Rob­son.

WAT­SON: Rio on her mind in Paris . . .

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