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Watson loses as British interest ends


Heather Watson
Heather Watson was aiming to reach the French Open second round for the seventh time in her career

Heather Watson was unable to prolong British interest in the French Open singles after losing her first-round match to France’s Fiona Ferro.

Watson, 28, was the final Briton in the draws after five of her compatriots were beaten on the opening two days.

But the world number 56 lost 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 to Ferro, who is ranked seven places higher in the world.

Watson’s defeat means she has lost six straight matches since the professional game returned in early August.

The Guernsey player competed at a decent level against the in-form Ferro – in a match delayed by rain and played in damp conditions – but their contrasting results coming into the Grand Slam event in Paris appeared to prove decisive.

Ferro, 23, has climbed into the world’s top 50 for the first time on the back of winning a clay-court title at the Palermo Open last month.

That added confidence is what seemed to give her the upper hand in a pivotal first-set tie-break from which Watson could not recover.

The pair continued to be evenly matched in the second set, but again it was Ferro who edged the crucial moments.

Trailing 2-0, she broke back in the third game and then in the seventh to claim a second main-draw win at her home Grand Slam.

Watson’s defeat means it is the first time since the French Open in 2013 that there are no British representatives in the second round of a Grand Slam.

Former world number one Andy Murray, along with British number ones Johanna Konta and Dan Evans, lost on Sunday, while Cameron Norrie and Liam Broady followed suit on Monday.

Analysis

BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller

Just like Johanna Konta, Dan Evans and Cameron Norrie, Heather Watson had her opportunities, but ultimately was not quite sharp enough to beat a player who won a title on clay just last month.

Watson was a break up in either set, but has got out of the habit of winning recently. That’s now six defeats in a row, either side of the tour’s suspension, since winning a fourth WTA title in Acapulco in February.

And so for the first time since the French Open of 2013, no British singles players have survived the first round of a Grand Slam.

Each has an individual story to tell, but it has been a disappointing Grand Slam year.

Only Norrie, at the US Open, managed to reach the third round.

If Konta over-performed last year, then she has under-performed this time around. And although Evans has played very well in the tournaments possible on the ATP Tour, he has not been able to make a mark on the Slams in the way he would like.

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