Svitolina edges past Watson in Birmingham

Elina Svitolina survived a tough test against British wildcard Heather Watson at the Aegon Classic on Monday, eventually winning her first round match in three sets.

The number two seed won the match 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 after the local favourite had rallied in the second, saving two match points to force a deciding set.

Svitolina won the first set with two breaks of serve, although Watson had chances to break back in games five and seven.

The second set then went with serve for ten games before Watson rattled off two games in succession to tie things up.

The third set saw Svitolina up her game, as the Ukrainian broke the Brit in game four before going on to seal the match without any more dramas.

Speaking after the match, Svitolina said: "I've been struggling a little bit on grass for the past few years…and I like the way I played today, the way I handled the game, the tight moments as well."

"I was expecting that she would come back and play well because, she always plays well on grass and can be very dangerous player. I was very happy that I could finish in the third set on my serve. It was actually a pretty good game.

Svitolina is now the highest ranked player after the withdrawal of world number one Angelique Kerber.

In other action, eighth seed Czech Barbora Strychova defeated Yulia Putintseva of KAzakhstan 6-3, 6-3 while Naomi Osaka of Japan saw off America’s Lauren Davis in three sets.

Britain’s Naomi Broady was also a winner, defeating Alize Cornet of France in straight sets 7-6(3), 6-0.

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