Rising British tennis star, Gabriella Taylor, has defeated Heather Watson in the opening round of the Fuzion 100 Surbiton Trophy. The 20 year-old triumphed 3-6 6-4 6-3 over the top seed on a day which saw six Brits claim opening round victories.
Going into the match, it was difficult to pick a favourite between Taylor and Watson. Whilst Watson was a beaten finalist in the tournament last year, the top seed had only arrived back to the UK this weekend following a mildly successful Roland Garros campaign. Despite a lack of practice on the grass, it was the British number two who took the early ascendency, breaking early to take a 3-1 lead. Watson, who served an impressive 10 aces in the match, continued to look comfortable and managed to save four break points before taking her second set point for a 6-3 lead.
In the second set, Taylor recovered twice from a break to take the match into a decider, with Watson’s first serve win percentage drastically dropping. After a tense opening service game, where Watson saved five break points, it was the more experienced Brit that took the crucial early momentum to lead 2-1. However, Taylor broke back immediately and looked impressive for the remainder of the set in which she won 100% of second service points and 71% on the first. After storming into a 5-3 lead in the decider, Taylor comfortably held on to win, eliminating the top seed and causing a shift in the powers of British women’s tennis.
Watson will be disappointed to suffer an early defeat in the ITF event, but in Gabi Taylor she faced a true rising star of British tennis. This season Taylor has already won three ITF titles in Australia, the latest coming in Mildura in March, and will be keen to continue her success on the grass this summer. However with impressive results comes growing expectation, pressure and media attention and this cannot always be a good thing for British tennis players. As Watson and Jo Konta recently expressed in Paris, the pressure players face in the UK can be counterproductive. In Taylor’s case, let’s hope lessons are learned and that she can continue her good progress without unnecessary stress.
In the next round, Taylor will face Hungarian Fanny Stollar, who has already beaten Konta and Watson this season. Stollar overcame Destanee Aiava 6-2 6-7 7-5 in a similarly testing match to the Brit.
Successful day for the ladies
The result of the day arguably belongs to Katie Swan who took advantage of her wild card to down seventh seed Arina Rodionova 2-6 6-4 6-3. Swan, who is ranked over 100 places below her opponent, struggled on her serve throughout and was broken three times in an erratic opening set. However, she recovered from a break of serve in the second to take a 5-3 lead in the second. Despite failing to serve out the set, Swan was able to take it to a final set on the Australian’s serve.
In the decider, the pair traded two breaks of serve before Swan crucially saved game points to earn a 5-3 lead. And the Brit clinched the match on her own serve, coming through in just over two hours. Her victory guarantees a British quarter-finalist as she faces Harriet Dart in the next round. Last year’s surprise semi-finalist got off to winning ways with a fairly comfortable 6-3 6-3 win over qualifier Mariam Bolkvadze. Dart stormed through the match, hitting five aces, and will be looking to continue her fine season on the grass.
Elsewhere in the ladies’ draw, Katie Boulter recovered from a set down to defeat qualifier Asia Muhammad 6-7 7-6 6-3. In a tight match, Boulter lost her service game just once and won an impressive 81% of first service points. She will now face fifth seed Jana Fett, who needed just 71 minutes in her opening round victory over Lizette Cabrera.
In the opening match of the day, Katy Dunne won an all-British match against Jodie Anna Burrage 7-6 6-3. Dunne saved a set point in the opener, after a dramatic 18-point tie break and let her experience shine through in the second set. Eventually taking her sixth match point, Dunne will face second seed Alison Riske next.
It wasn’t to be for Tara Moore, who, despite recovering from 0-4 in the opening set to lead 7-5, was forced to retire at 7-5 2-6 1-4 against qualifier Vicky Duval.
Dan Evans last Brit standing in men’s draw
After the disappointment of Alex Ward and Jay Clarke’s losses yesterday, Dan Evans was able to finally bring some cheer to the home crowd in the ATP Challenger event. The qualifier defeated Thomas Fabbiano 6-4 7-5; a victory that is Evans’ best since his return. Evans will next face German Mats Moraing, who beat eighth seed Bjorn Frantangelo yesterday.
However, Evans will be the only British interest in the second round after James Ward, Lloyd Glasspool and Liam Broady all lost to higher ranked players.
James Ward was unable to maintain his success from the recent Loughborough Challenger, going down 4-6 6-3 6-3 to Sergiy Stakhovsky. Despite the early loss, the signs are encouraging from Ward who is returning to the Challenger circuit after a lengthy spell on the injury sidelines.
Lloyd Glasspool, who has some important points to defend on the grass, lost out to qualifier (and world number 68) Taylor Fritz. Despite taking the first set 6-4 and serving a total of 13 aces, Glasspool was unable to maintain his form, losing 6-3 6-4 in the next two sets.
Liam Broady, meanwhile, was unable to take two set points in the opening set, losing 12-10 on a tie break to top seed Jeremy Chardy. The Frenchman served well throughout and clinched the match in 90 minutes against the Brit, claiming a more comfortable second set 6-3.