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Svitolina outlasts Watson to advance at Aegon Classic

Svitolina outlasts Watson to advance at Aegon Classic

In Mallorca, second seed Anastasija Sevastova was pushed all the way by Elise Mertens but eventually secured a 7-6 (7-2) 5-7 6-1 victory, while Kristyna Pliskova defeated Timea Babos 6-2 3-6 6-3.

That is because the late withdrawal on Sunday of Angelique Kerber, the World No 1 - which caused Svitolina's elevation to the highest remaining seed - is only the last in a long list of injury-triggered big-name losses for the tournament.

Svitolina has had a brilliant year but has struggled on grass in the past, winning only four matches in her career before this one and losing in the first round on both previous trips to Birmingham.

The World No. 5 will face the qualifier Camila Giorgi or the 20-year-old Natalia Vikhlyantseva next.

She served out the set confidently, finishing with a forehand victor down the line. However, there was a drastic turn of events in the second set, with Davis breaking twice and proving too strong for the error-prone Japanese as she took the second set 6-2, sending the match into a decider.

Nevertheless, she grabbed a timely break of serve in the fourth game of the final set with the help of a couple of rare slices.

It seemed heading into this opening round encounter that Yulia Putintseva, a former French Open quarterfinalist, could push Strycova and potentially beat her, though the two-time finalist showed she could potentially go one step further with a comfortable first round victory.

It was not the result Watson wished for ahead of Wimbledon but contained much more encouragement than the 6-2 6-3 loss to Alison Riske in Nottingham.

The Ukrainian, who has never advanced past the second round at Wimbledon, is looking to have her most successful season on grass to date this year.

Though numerous home crowd would have been disappointed following Heather Watson's defeat, it wasn't too long until they had something to cheer about, with Naomi Broady getting one of the best wins of her career over Alize Cornet.

That first set loss seemingly disheartened Cornet, who became distracted and complained early on about not being able to see properly in the light.