2021 Viking International Eastbourne

Swiatek stutters past British No.2 Watson in three-set thriller

Heather Watson, who put her torrid clay court season behind her to race into the semi-finals at Birmingham last week, came perilously close to continuing her sensational grass court form.

But the Guernsey girl, staring at victory, somehow succumbed to world No.9 Iga Swiatek in a thriller 6-3 6-7(4) 7-5.

Swiatek, the first Polish Grand Slam Singles champion after capturing the 2020 French Open crown, looked to be on the brink of defeat after trailing 4-1 40-0 in the final set.

The contest was full of fizz from the start, both players going for broke. Yet it took until the eighth game before there was a break point, when Swiatek fluffed her opportunity but made no mistake when she was gifted a second break point.

This break was enough for the 20-year-old to take advantage and hold her serve to love in the next game to secure the opening set.

Watson was in no mood to throw in the towel in the second set, and dug deep to save five break points much to the delight of the majority of spectators. The 29-year-old never wavered and broke Swiatek to take a 4-2 lead.

The Pole immediately hit straight back, with the set gently moving into a tentative tiebreak that Watson wrapped up with some brave choice of shots.R

ejuvenated Watson started playing with electrifying pace and control to power into a deserved 4-1 lead, and seemed on the verge of repeating her form at the Viking Classic Birmingham last week.

But Swiatek broke back, after trailing 40-0, and scooped five of the next six games to register her maiden main draw success at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park.

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