Heather Watson in amazing comeback at Australian Open
British number one saves three match points to book place in third round in Melbourne
BRITISH tennis hope Heather Watson produced one of the performances of her career yoday to recover from three match points down to beat Ksenia Pervak and reach the third round of the Australian Open.
The victory equals her best performance at a Grand Slam event - she also reached the third round at Wimbledon last year - and ups the ante for her good friend and rival for the British number one spot, Laura Robson, who is in action tonight.
But Watson had to fight hard for her place in the next round of the competition in Melbourne. She lost the first set and found herself 6-3 down in the tie-break in the second. But she saved the first match point, against her serve, after a 28-shot rally and then won the next two before going on to level the match at one set all.
Having taken the match to a deciding set Watson took control, even though she was by now battling cramp, and eventually ran out 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 winner in just over three hours.
"Heather Watson never knows when she is beaten, which is not a bad commodity for a professional tennis player," said The Times. "And it was that characteristic, above all else, that transported the British No 1 into the third round of the Australian Open."
Piers Newbery of BBC Sport said she had shown true fighting spirit. "It was far from her best tennis, but the biggest weapon in her armoury is her mental strength and it came to the fore once again. Few players would have had the heart to even try."
The 'Barmy Army' also played a part in her triumph, said the Daily Mail. After the match, she "threw herself, footballer-style, into her adoring crowd of supporters", whom she described as "unbelievable".
But the paper adds that she now faces an even tougher task against Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, "the classy No 4 seed who gave her a real whacking at the same stage of Wimbledon last summer".