• Australian Open, Day Three

Watson returns from the precipice to beat Pervak

ESPN staff
January 16, 2013
Heather Watson and Ksenia Pervak thrilled the Melbourne crowd © Getty Images

Heather Watson was at her stubborn best as she saved three consecutive match points to win a three-hour epic with Ksenia Pervak in the second round of the Australian Open.

Watson, who now meets world No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska in round three, found herself 6-3 down in a second set tiebreaker, having already lost the first set. However, she battled back to force the match to a decider, eventually winning 4-6 7-6(7) 6-2.

The British No. 1 is treading new ground at the Australian Open, having never been this far in the competition, and for the majority of the opening two sets she appeared to allow the magnitude of the occasion affect her. There were 35 unforced errors from both players in the first set alone, and only nine winners.

Crucially, both of those statistics fell slightly in Pervak's favour, allowing her to break three times to two and establish an advantage. Yet more was to come.

The second set produced 65 unforced errors as both players let out shrieks of frustration at their inability to find a rhythm. Watson almost boiled over at one stage as she allowed set point to slip away in the tenth game.

It went to a tiebreaker, where Pervak roared into a 6-3 lead, setting up three match points. Watson's best quality, however, is surely her grit and determination when her back is against the wall, and she saved all three en route to a 9-7 tiebreak victory.

The pivotal moment had arrived, with Pervak's energy drained. Watson was in the ascendency and back-to-back breaks saw the Brit to a 3-0 lead in the decider. The only threat to victory now was her own fitness as she limped back to her chair at the changeover.

Her fans need not have worried as, for the first time in the match, Watson gained control of her game - rattling off ten winners to Pervak's one. Victory eventually arrived in three hours and two minutes, with the almighty test of Radwanska up next.

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