Team GB got off to a winning start at the Rio Olympics, with Heather Watson into the second round with a less than convincing win against China’s Peng Shuai.
Breaking early in the first set, Watson seemed to settle early and got into a smooth rhythm that allowed her to play a range of quality shots, including some wonderful strong forehands that caused her opponent problems during periods of the match.
Buoyed by the confidence she gained from winning the Wimbledon mixed doubles, Watson delivered some venomous shots that were taken straight out of a textbook and was a joy to watch. But her Chinese opponent wouldn’t give in, and showed real courage in the second set which ebbed and flowed, resulting in Peng taking the set 7-6 and leaving the match in the balance.
In the third set, Watson didn’t wilt under the Brazilian sunshine and kept her composure when she could easily have switched off, and she took an early break of serve and had to be patient when serving for the match as Peng stubbornly resisted before a nice forehand down the line saw Watson into the next round. Final score: 6-4 6-7(5) 6-3.
This match will make Watson realise every match needs to be treated like a Grand Slam final. When tested, she came through with flying colours, which will encourage her for even tougher challenges ahead.