Watson back to her best

Heather Watson powers in a forehand during here first round victory at Devonshire Park
Heather Watson powers in a forehand during here first round victory at Devonshire Park

An impressive performance from Britain’s Heather Watson saw her progress to the second round of the AEGON International in straight sets.

Watson skipped past her American opponent and good friend Vavvara Lepchenko 6-3, 6-4 on centre court to set up a second round match with Russian player Elena Vesnina who beat Serbian Ana Ivanovic (pictured) 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the first match of the day.

Despite dropping her first service game, the 21-year-old British number-two and world-ranked 48 proved too powerful and too athletic for the 27-year-old American left-hander.

Watson is still on the road to full fitness having recently returned to the tour after a bout of glandular fever.

Last month she was knocked out of the French Open in the first round and at the AEGON Classic in Birmingham she fared little better and suffered a 6-4, 6-3 defeat to Russian qualifier Alla Kudryavtseva in round two.

But in the Devonshire Park sunshine on centre court, the spring in Watson’s step returned.

She delivered impressive variety and served a few bombs that regularly caught her heavy-footed opponent off guard.

After the match a delighted Watson said, “Today was a good day. I didn’t play well in Birmingham so I was very motivated for this week and mentally very up for this first round match.

“I’m good friends with Varvara, it’s difficult playing a friend but I was very much looking forward to playing her and I thought I played well today. I served better, I moved better, my reactions were better and I had a lot more energy today.

“As yet I have not thought about next (Wimbledon) I just want to keep going as far as I can here and that’ll give me the confidence I need going into Wimbledon.”

Meanwhile, British men’s number 13 Kyle Edmund celebrated his Eastbourne senior debut with a shock victory over world number 82 Kenny De Schepper.

The Brit, who entered the main draw as a wildcard, defied a 360-rank difference to power past the 6’8” Frenchman in straight sets 6-4, 6-4.

It didn’t take long for the 18-year-old to get settled as he broke De Schepper’s opening serve on the way to an early 4-2 lead.

De Schepper failed to break Edmund in either set and the Brit stormed to victory in one hour and four minutes to set up a meet with number two seed and world number 17 Gilles Simon.

On court one former champ Marion Bartoli cruised into round two with a straight sets 6-3, 6-2 victory over Italian Flavia Pennetta. Bartolli will face the winner from Alize Cornet and Chinese wildcard entrant Li Na who will face each other today (Tuesday).

In the men’s draw Italian Fabio Fognini progressed to round two with a 6-7, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Grega Zemlja of Slovakia.

First up on centre on Tuesday will be Britain’s James Ward against Aussie Bernard Tomic. Perhaps the pick of the first round draw, defending champion Tamira Paszek and Caroline Wozniacki have been placed on court one for an 11am start.

Eastbourne’s Johanna Konta faces Su-Wei Hsieh on court three and Britain’s Laura Robson is third up on centre against Ukrainian Yuliya Beygelzimer.

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