Watson fights back to win

  • Last Updated: June 17 2014, 21:38 BST

Heather Watson launched a stirring comeback to beat former Wimbledon semi-finalist Tsvetana Pironkova and reach the second round of the Aegon International at Eastbourne.

Heather Watson: Three-set winner over Pironkova
Heather Watson: Three-set winner over Pironkova

Watson looked set to continue her poor start to the grasscourt season as she trailed the Bulgarian, ranked 33 places above the Briton at 37 in the world.

But Watson rallied to break her opponent at the crucial point of the second set before turning on the style in the decider to wrap up an impressive 3-6 7-5 6-2 win in two hours and 14 minutes.

Watson will now meet Flavia Pennetta for a place in the quarter-finals.

"For me, today was just sticking in there and just fighting through, even if I wasn't playing as well as I wanted to, and just to hold on and keep fighting, working on the right attitude,” said Watson. “When I do that, I feel my tennis follows."

Watson’s match against Pennetta is scheduled third on Centre Court on Wednesday.

Looking ahead, she added: "I know she's a very good player, and she's been playing well, especially this year so it will be another tough one, but I look forward to playing her for the first time."

Things did not go so well for former world number one Victoria Azarenka, who was beaten on her return from injury.

Playing for the first time since March due to a foot problem, the fourth-seeded wild car suffered a premature exit, going down 4-6 6-3 7-5 to Italy's Camila Giorgi.

However, the Belarusian remained upbeat afterwards, saying: "That's exactly what I wanted, I wanted to have a competitive match.

"I wanted to test myself, to play for a long time, see how my body is going to react.

"The result is the result, but that's the beginning. It's a starting point. I think there are a lot of positive things I can take from what happened today."

Third seed Jelena Jankovic also fell, 6-3 6-3 to American Madison Keys, and Sara Errani (7) lost to Lauren Davis, but second seed Petra Kvitova struggled past Lucie Safarova 6-1 5-7 7-6 (7/4).

British wild card Johanna Konta delighted the home fans with a dominant 6-3 6-2 win over a higher-ranked opponent in Switzerland's world number 72 Belinda Bencic.

The victory is expected to lift the British number three into the world's top 100 on Monday.

"I'm very happy with my performance,” said Konta. “I was very prepared to have to play a tough match. I played her earlier in the year in Acapulco. I had a tough one against her. I lost.

"(Today) I knew I'd have to play my best and stay tough. I just wanted to stick with my game plan and make sure I fought every point. I'm just happy I got through. It's a good result for me, a good win."

Next up for the Australian-born star will be a meeting with Giorgi.

In the men's event, James Ward failed to provide similar heroics to Watson and Konta, the British number three falling 6-3 6-2 to American Donald Young in the first round.

Ward failed to muster a single break-point opportunity on Young's serve while his opponent took advantage of three of his 10 opportunities to ease to a comfortable win.

Also in the men's first round, Colombian seventh seed Santiago Giraldo fell 6-3 6-7 (5/7) 6-3 to Finland's Jarkko Nieminen, while Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Julien Benneteau were also winners.