Heather Watson battles through in Australia Open but Dan Evans exits

Heather Watson plays a forehand against Karolina Pliskova  on her way to victory in Melbourne. Picture: Mike Owen/Getty Images
Heather Watson plays a forehand against Karolina Pliskova on her way to victory in Melbourne. Picture: Mike Owen/Getty Images
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Heather Watson battled her way into the second round of the Australian Open but Dan Evans’s campaign came to an end with a straight-sets defeat by Yoshihito Nishioka.

The British No 1 had the carrot of a potential third-round match with Novak Djokovic but was second-best against his Japanese opponent and lost 6-4 6-3 6-4.

AGONY: Dan Evans reacts after losing a point to Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka during their second round match in Melbourne. Picture: AP/Andy Wong

AGONY: Dan Evans reacts after losing a point to Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka during their second round match in Melbourne. Picture: AP/Andy Wong

Evans said: “I knew it would be difficult. In all honesty, I didn’t want him to win against (Laslo) Djere.

“When it was windy like that, I knew exactly how he would play and I couldn’t break him. I didn’t play great, but all credit to him, he played pretty good.

“Some days you look forward to matches and I didn’t look forward to it. I just find him overly awkward.”

Despite the disappointing end to his first grand slam tournament as a seed, Evans can reflect on an excellent start to the year, with a new career-high ranking of 32 thanks to his tremendous performances for Great Britain at the ATP Cup.

I felt a bit nervous on court in the first set and was a bit tense. But after that I managed to loosen up and relax and start enjoying it.

Heather Watson

He said: “Obviously to start the year with such drama with my matches and then the doubles at ATP Cup, I can only look back and be happy.

“It was great to be there, part of that tournament, and then the grand slams are always good. I love coming to Melbourne. I’ve enjoyed it. It was a difficult day.

“But I’ve got to look back at a lot of points and good moves up the rankings.”

There was much better news for Watson, whose match against Kristyna Pliskova was a victim of the overloaded schedule on Tuesday and held back.

Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka celebrates after defeating Dan Evans in Melbourne. Picture: AP/Andy Wong

Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka celebrates after defeating Dan Evans in Melbourne. Picture: AP/Andy Wong

Windy conditions in Melbourne made life tricky but it was tall Czech Pliskova, the identical twin sister of world No 2 Karolina, who ended up struggling.

That had a lot to do with Watson, who was unlucky to lose the first set but fought back brilliantly, sealing the second set with an ace before taking the match 4-6 6-3 6-1.

Watson said: “Being the first-round match and it being postponed, I felt a bit nervous on court in the first set and was a bit tense. But after that I managed to loosen up and relax and start enjoying it.”

British No 2 Watson arrived in Melbourne in good form after reaching the semi-finals of the Hobart International and she should feel positive for her match with 16th seed Elise Mertens today after beating her in Tasmania.