Youth trumps experience as Watson ousts Baltacha

ESPN staff
June 13, 2012
Anne Keothavong cuts a dejected figure © PA Photos

Heather Watson justified her Wimbledon wildcard as she won an all-British battle against Elena Baltacha to progress to the third round at the AEGON Classic, but Anne Keothavong and Laura Robson failed to progress in Birmingham.

Baltacha, who had earlier completed a 4-6 6-4 7-5 win over Kai-Chen Chang, showed signs of fatigue as she let an early lead slip from her grasp as she bowed out to a 7-6(5) 6-3 defeat.

The win earns Watson a shot at Italian Roberta Vinci, who was gifted a place in the third round after Virginie Razzano retired after losing the opening set 6-3.

British No. 1 Anne Keothavong could not continue her bright start to the grass-court season after succumbing to qualifier Zheng Jie in straight sets at the AEGON Classic in Birmingham.

Keothavong, who displaced Elena Baltacha at the top of the domestic standings with a run to the semi-finals in Nottingham last week, struggled to hold serve throughout the contest and was broken four times by an aggressive Zheng.

The Brit was well below par in the second-round duel, handing the initiative back to her opponent with six double faults and, ultimately, Zheng's more solid play saw her clinch a 6-3 6-4 victory in 81 minutes.

Keothavong's compatriot Mel South failed to continue her run, falling to former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic in straight sets. South, bidding for a Wimbledon wildcard, could not repeat the performance she produced to oust Mirjana Lucic, with Jankovic winning their second-round meeting 6-1 7-6(3).

South, sixth in the domestic standings, had two set points to take the match into a deciding set but Jankovic showed her class to avert the danger and come on strong in the tiebreak to book a place in the third round.

The Serb will now play Casey Dellacqua after the Australian beat Tara Moore 4-6 6-4 6-1. Moore, who is still on the hunt for a Wimbledon wildcard, took the opening set against the odds, but Dellacqua rallied to book her place in the third round.

Laura Robson failed in her quest to reach the third round, with ninth seed Marina Erakovic proving too strong for the young Brit. After losing the first set, Robson fought back, raising her game significantly to force the match to go the distance. She was unable to maintain her new-found level, however, as Erakovic cranked up the pressure enough to break through Robson's defences and secure a 6-4 3-6 6-4 triumph.

There was a major upset at Edgbaston Priory Club as top seed Francesca Schiavone was dumped out following a 7-5 6-4 defeat to Misaki Doi.

Mona Barthel was also a casualty, the sixth seed sent packing 7-6(5) 6-2 by Andrea Hlavackova, while there were also wins for Urszula Radwanska, Elena Vesnina and Melanie Oudin.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.