HEATHER WATSON pulled off another great escape at the Australian Open yesterday to set up a third-round clash with fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska.
Watson saved three match points in a second-set tie break before powering back to beat Ksenia Pervak 4-6 7-6 (9-7) 6-2.
It was the second match in succession the British No 1 had found herself a set and a break down but she pulled through to give herself a chance at gaining revenge on Pole Radwanska, who thrashed her at Wimbledon last year.
Asked if she thought she had blown the opportunity to reach the last 32 of a grand slam for just the second time in her career, Watson admitted: “I’m not going to lie I did a wee bit.
“But I just pushed it to the back of my mind and said ‘she’s going to have to win this’. I just didn’t want to give it away.”
Despite being roared on by a vociferous crowd on court eight, Watson looked nervous in an error-strewn opening set.
The 20-year-old threw in 19 unforced errors compared to just three winners as Pervak’s greater weight of shot prompted her to go for more.
When another wayward backhand saw her go 2-0 down in the second it was again looking an uphill struggle.
But for a dubious line call it would have been 3-0 but Watson made the most of her fortune to break back and then level at 2-2.
It remained on serve until the tie-breaker, which appeared to be going the way of the Kazakh when a poor forehand gave Pervak three chances to claim the match at 6-3.
But world No 50 Watson dug deep to get out of trouble and claim it on her second set point.
After a second comfort break, Pervak returned but her will had been broken.
Watson cruised into a 4-0 lead and then served it out, prompting jubilant scenes of celebration and hugs for several supporters.
As plucky a performance as it was, things are about to get much tougher in the shape of in-form Radwanska.
The world No 4 earlier recorded her 11th win on the trot in 2013 against Irina-Camelia Begu. She has yet to drop a set this year and warmed up for Melbourne by claiming the titles in Auckland and Sydney.
Their only previous meeting was that encounter at SW19 when Radwanska dropped just two games, a defeat which Watson admitted “killed her”.
“She’s a very different player to most of the girls,” said Watson.
“She’s consistent, got great feel so it’s going to be another physical match.
“I think the last time I played her I just went out all guns blazing, went for way too much.
“This time I’m coming in a different player and I’m going to approach it differently.”