Heather Watson enjoyed a morale boosting straight sets 7-7, 6-2 victory against American Varvara Lepchenko at the AEGON International.
The 23-year-old British No.1 won in one-hour and 40 minutes on the centre court at Devonshire Park to set up a second round clash with Ukrainian Elina Svitolina.
The first set was a tough affair as the momentum went both ways.
Watson lost her first service game against the American but broke back in the very next game and powered into a 3-1 lead.
Watson appeared to have the upper hand but double faulted at break point on her service and Lepchenko was back in the set.
Watson, ranked 64 in the world, reached the semi-final of the AEGON International last year.
At times her ground strokes were back to her best and her booming first serve also came to her rescue at 4-4 when she fought off four break points against her.
In the tie-break Watson raced into a 4-0 lead but Lepchenko, a tricky left-hander with a world ranking of 38, rattled off five consecutive points only for Watson to fight her back and serve out for the first set.
The first set proved crucial and Watson, full of confidence and high on energy had too much for her 29-year-old opponent and wrapped up the second 6-2.
Watson said, “It was tricky out there with the sun and the wind and I’m happy to get through.
“I love playing here in Eastbourne on centre court and I can’t wait for the next round.”
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