Scottish Daily Mail



JUST TOO GOOD. It is a phrase that has been uttered a lot about British sporting defeats over the last couple of days. But that is exactly what Madison Keys was for Heather Watson. Too powerful, too unforgivin­g, too talented. Watson was bidding to become the first Briton since Virginia Wade in 1976 to reach the final in Eastbourne. But aside from winning the first point of the match on Keys’ serve, she never seriously looked like doing it. The British No 1 was broken from 40-15 up in her first service game and chased the match valiantly thereafter before surrenderi­ng with a netted forehand 6-3, 6-1. ‘My toughest opponent ever,’ Watson said of Keys. ‘Massive serve, massive groundstro­kes. I tried to hang in there at the beginning but you know what? She just played too good for me.’ Watson tried going toe-to-toe with Keys, 19, but the powerhouse American outgunned her with terrifying groundstro­kes. Watson, 22, had her chances to break back but Keys’ first serve blasted past Watson at 123mph at one point, not far shy of Venus Williams’ all-time record of 130mph. When she did not opt for raw power, Keys, who plays Germany’s Angelique Kerber in today’s final, threw down a kick serve, which Watson struggled to cope with. ‘I played her last yearear at Wimbledon,’ said Watson of their only y other meeting, which Keys also won in straight sets. ‘She hit the ball double as hard today as she did then.’ The death knell sounded in the third d game of the secondd set when Watson was broken from 40-0 up. The break was sealed with a fizzing backhand that probablypr­o cut deeper given that Watson’s coach Diego VeVeronell­i was on court a fefew minutes previously ttelling her to hit to Keys’ backhand. In the next game, WWatson again lost five ppoints in a row and with it a chance to put Keys ununder pressure. But Watson has had a good week and gained confidence afterf an energy-sapping, rankingred­ucing bout of glandular fever last year. Watson should break into the top 50 and in beating world No 12 Flavia Pennetta on Wednesday she claimed her first top-20 scalp. At Wimbledon next week, Watson has a tough but winnable first round match against Ajla Tomljanovi­c. ‘I’m a completely different person than I was going to Wimbledon last year,’ said Watson. ‘I’m feeling positive about my game, positive about tennis and just positive about life.’

 ?? PA ?? Semi-final hurdle: Watson toils in a straightse­ts defeat
PA Semi-final hurdle: Watson toils in a straightse­ts defeat

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