Eastbourne Tennis: Heather Watson topples defending champ Dominika Cibulkova

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By Michael Stokoe

After Heather Watson’s epic win yesterday against Lesia Tsurenko, the question that was on everyone’s mind was whether the British No.2 could pull out another similar performance on centre court.

Today Watson was up against entirely different opposition, an opponent who was the reigning champion in Eastbourne last year, Dominika Cibulkova.

But Watson today showed why she could be a dark-horse in this competition as she beat the world no.9 in impressive fashion.

The manner of her straight sets victory was the most pleasing aspect, her all round game from the start was on point, especially her service game which was a pivotal part of her superb victory.

But for Cibulkova, it was in the exact same spot where she was crowned 2016 winner as her dreams of a successive win was torn away.

The 28-year-old cut a forlorn figure as her season is seemingly going from bad to worse.

Right from the start it was Watson as the aggressor looking to build on the momentum of yesterday’s performance, and in the end Watson strong serve and imaginative play was causing Cibulkova problems.

The Slovakian did manage to bring the game to a tie-break at the end of the first but Watson was on a wave of momentum and she closed out the first set 7-5.

In the second set it was more of the same from the British player. And as she progressed through the gears, the 25-year-old broke Cibulkova halfway through the set which put her in pole position.

Last year’s Wimbledon’s quarter-finalist responded but Watson held her nerve as she recorded what was a huge victory in front of an adorning centre court crowd.

Watson said, “The crowd were great, they seemed really loud this year it was fantastic.

“Today everything came together and it feels good.”