2016 French Open

Watson’s arc of triumph in Paris

British #2 secures Olympic place with win

Heather Watson took two days to move into the 2nd Round at the French Open, with a 5-7 6-2 6-2 success over American Nicole Gibbs.

‎And after play was suspended yesterday due to rain, Watson took the bull by the horns to reel off five games on the bounce to claim victory:

“Today was very different as yesterday it was wet and the ball got heavier, so it was harder to hit winners.”

Watson, the world #54 and British #2, was under the added pressure in this match of attempting to secure her place at the Rio Games – with the top 56 on the WTA Tour at the end of the French Open guaranteed a place if in the top four for their nation.

Gibbs battled back from 3-1 in favourable conditions, but eventually lost 2-3

Gibbs, her Doubles partner in Paris and ranked 18 places behind the Guernsey girl, scrapped her way back from 3-1 to snatch the set – saving two break points in the eighth game that turned the tide in the contest.

The 24-year-old edged 3-2 ahead in the next set before heavy rain delayed the encounter.

Watson benefited from the break as she turned on the style to square matters with three successive games that included some spectacular drop shots.Her over confidence in the third set resulted in a feeble volley attempt on her serve to gift Gibbs a 2-1 lead.

Following Watson’s slip on the damp red clay, the umpire halted play for the day and the intriguing contest continued on Monday.

Yet it proved a real let down in terms of entertainment, with the spectators so subdued by Gibbs’ dismal display that enthusiastic Watson tried – to no avail – to gee up the crowd to make some noise.

Watson cranked her game up sufficiently and destroyed Gibbs from the offset, both players hanging around for hours in the hope of resuming play. The British star shone but failed to brighten up the frumpy mainly French crowd, firing on all cylinders against her sluggish opponent to win five games in a row and reach the 2nd Round.

Gibbs, whose performance was as flat as the spectators’ enthusiasm, was so enraged at the end that she threw her racquet. This was in stark contrast to Watson who was beaming from ear to ear.

Watson admitted: “The conditions being very rainy suited her game style more than mine, I just had to try and adapt.”

“The Olympics has been pretty much my main goal this year. I had a great time at the 2012 London Games and I want to go back.”

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