Heather Watson continued her fine form in Monterrey on Friday evening, battling past second seed Caroline Wozniacki 7-5, 6-4 to book her place in the semi finals of the 2016 Abierto Monterrey Afirme. Awaiting her in the last four is WTA Rising Star Caroline Garcia, who recovered from an early defecit to win a late-night, all-French battle with Pauline Parmentier.
Watson Claims Decisive Break Late in Opening Set
Coming into this match, it was no secret that Watson was looking to force the issue upon Wozniacki by being aggressive time and time again, while the Dane was looking to maximize her signature counter-punching abilities to draw errors out of the British number two. The beauty of these contrasting styles is that it often makes for an intriguing and high quality contest, which was exactly the case for the majority of the opening set.
Despite the first ten games of the set all going with serve, both women had their fair share of chances to send a real statement of intent by initiating the first break, but the server was, with the help of some good fortune, able to dig their way out of trouble. However, it was unsurprisingly Watson who was knocking on the door to initiate that elusive first break once more, and this time she finally managed to seize her opportunities in the 11th game to draw first blood, breaking courtesy of an uncharacteristic forehand unforced error from Wozniacki. Having served well throughout the opening set, Watson proved she was not one to crack under the pressure, successfully serving out the set to love to take the opening set 7-5 in just over an hour of high-quality tennis.
Watson Overcomes Early Deficit; Completes the Upset in Straight Sets
With Watson growing in confidence as the match progressed, the end result looked ominous for Wozniacki. However, the former world number one held firm, saving two break points before holding to open proceedings in the second set. A game later, the Dane would be rewarded for her trademark fighting spirit as she managed to finally crack the code and break the Watson serve, thus opening up an early 2-0 lead. Watson, however, was unfazed by her first real setback of the match, and responded by breaking straight back a game later. Moments later, the British number two restored order in the second set, holding to restore parity at 2-all. Suddenly, the pressure was right back on the shoulders of the former world number one, who was admittedly far from her best tonight.
Watson didn't seem to mind though. As she continued to time the ball with incredible efficiency, the world number 84 continued her march to a spot in the last four with yet another break of serve -- her third of the match -- to lead 3-2. From there, the next four games all went to the server without the loss of a single point. As a result, Watson was suddenly forced to serve out the win -- her biggest test all-match. After putting herself in a winning position, could the 23-year-old get over the line and add another big scalp to her résumé?
In the end, Watson's power and precision was too much for Wozniacki to handle as the British number two passed the test with flying colours, converting her first match point to defeat the Dane 7-5, 6-4 and book her place in the semi finals.
"I'm very happy with how I played today. I thought I played very well - I needed to against Caroline because she's a great player - and I had to fight to the end because I knew she would," Watson said after the match. "I just took it point by point and didn't look too far ahead."
Next Up for Watson: Caroline Garcia
Next up for Watson is France's Caroline Garcia, who defeated Pauline Parmentier in a late-night, all-French battle in the Mexican desert. The pair have met twice before with Watson coming out on top on both occasions, but their most recent meeting was at Wimbledon last year where the home favourite edged out the Frenchwoman 1-6, 6-3, 8-6 to clinch one of the most dramatic victories of her career thus far.