Heather Watson reaches round two of French Open after rain delay
Heather Watson has reached the second round of the French Open after beating Nicole Gibbs 5-7 6-2 6-2.
The 24-year-old saw off Gibbs and the Paris weather to progress in the tournament and all but secure her place at the upcoming Rio Olympics.
Watson was a break up in the third set when rain postponed play on Sunday night, but she won all five games on the resumption to triumph and set up a second-round clash with former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Qualifying for Rio has been at the forefront of Watson’s mind all season, with the British No 2 describing the London Games as the best experience of her career.
She arrived at Roland Garros with points to defend having reached the second round last year and a first-round loss would have left the world No 54 vulnerable.
The cut-off comes immediately after the French Open, with the 56 top-ranked eligible players qualifying. Given only four players from any one country can compete, a ranking in the low 60s will be good enough.
More rain on Monday morning and then a five-set men’s match meant it was gone 5pm local time when Watson and Gibbs returned to Court 3.
There was no time for Watson to play herself in because she immediately faced a point for Gibbs to take a 3-1 lead but crucially she won that and then secured the break of serve.
The Guernsey player had played her best tennis on Sunday after a lengthy rain delay and it was a similar story here.
Four clean winners earned her another break and a 4-2 lead, and Watson then fought off break points in the next game before clinching victory with a smash.
Gibbs was far from happy, hurling her racket before cursorily shaking Watson’s hand, but it was all smiles for the British player.
The news was not so positive for British No 3 Naomi Broady, who failed to make the most of winning the second set of her clash with America’s CoCo Vandeweghe.
Broady bounced back from losing the opening set to level the match. but Vandeweghe produced some big shots in the decider to progress 6-4 3-6 6-3.