Heather Watson couldn’t deal with the heat and fire she faced at the Australian Open Monday afternoon. The Brit had the hot conditions and the tough push from Petra Martic who went on to take her out of the tournament in a 6-1, 6-2 defeat on court 14 at Melbourne Park.
The two regulars on the tour made the moment their first recorded meeting. Watson carried the upper hand of playing tennis since the season started with two wins. Despite not going deep into Hobart, the Brit eyed victory in Melbourne for the first time in two years.
The Croatian would depend on her skills to get her across the finish line despite playing a three-setter way back on December 31. Last year, the 27-year-old made it to the round of 16 in hopes that the memory of that helps her to improve her personal best.
She came out quickly against Watson breaking her in the opening game before scoring a serve to love in the second. In an effort to deny Martic any more ground, she dug into her service game on deuce winning it after two breaks to get on course.
Martic kept her composure that made it a 3-1 run trying to keep the pressure on Watson. A double break in the fifth widened the gap for the 31st seed gaining the double break on the Brit.
After serving successfully for the third straight time, Martic easily got into position to go a set up with Watson in trouble. The Croatian gained two set points before Watson lost the point with another forehand error ending 26 minutes of play. Though she had just one double fault recorded, the problem laid in her second serve to score on just 3 of 12 that gave Martic a lot of breathing room. She dominated on both fronts of her service game notching eight winners with four errors.
She didn’t let up on Watson after the set break giving her just a single point during the first before scoring a break to love in the second. It was soon 3-0 for Martic when Watson called for the physio who came out to check her blood pressure as the heat was in the high 90s. With some time in the shade and the assurance that she could play on, the Brit served the fourth hoping to get into action.
She successfully got a hold against Martic in the fourth but there was a lot of ground to be made up. The Croatian extended the margin to three games with the physio coming back to the court for Watson who was again in some sort of distress with her left hand.
After the issue was taken care of, both players returned to play with the Brit looking to add a second win. She did so by holding Martic to two points in the sixth that gave her some momentum on her service games.
When it looked as if she’d get a full hand on her game, Martic had other ideas when she secured her serve in the seventh putting Watson back on the edge of defeat. Martic took care of business to finish things well against the Brit to take the win in one hour and five minutes. With a major positive coming so well for the Croatian, she’ll try to keep up the level of strength against Marketa Vondrousova in the second round Wednesday.