Qualifying win for Watson

Andover Advertiser: Heather Watson, pictured, will now face Stephanie Foretz Gacon in round two of qualifying Heather Watson, pictured, will now face Stephanie Foretz Gacon in round two of qualifying

It was one down, two to go for Heather Watson as she moved into the second round of qualifying at the Australian Open.

The 21-year-old is playing in grand slam qualifying for the first time in 18 months after glandular fever ruined her 2013 to see her drop out of the top 100.

Watson, who reached the third round in Melbourne last year, defeated Australian Arina Rodionova 6-4 6-3 and will next meet France's Stephanie Foretz Gacon, who she beat at the French Open in 2011.

Watson said: "I was very nervous. I feel like in the middle I loosened up but my energy really dropped at the end because I think all the nervous energy had worn me out.

"But I was able to close it out. I played quite well, I definitely can play better, and I think I'll play a lot freer in my next match.

"I don't know why I was so nervous, it's a while since I played in qualifying and I expect myself to do well and go far. I really like the tournament and play well on these courts so I think I'm putting too much pressure on myself."

Watson was already feeling the effects of glandular fever at the Australian Open last year before it was eventually diagnosed in March.

She came back after two months but later conceded that was too soon and she struggled until her final couple of tournaments in 2013.

By that stage her ranking had plummeted outside the top 120, but the signs have been positive so far this season, with Watson qualifying for the tournament in Brisbane last week.

She said: "I feel like I'm playing the best that I have the last couple of weeks, especially in practice. I had six singles matches before this tournament so that's what I wanted."

Watson also has a new coach, Argentinian Diego Veronelli, and she is happy with how the partnership is progressing.

"It's going very well with Diego," she said. "I've learned a lot already, we're adding different things to my game and most importantly we're getting on very well."

British number four Tara Moore did not fare so well, the 21-year-old losing 6-0 7-5 to Japan's Erika Sema.

British number two Johanna Konta joined Watson in round two with an emphatic victory over American Grace Min.

Konta, who grew up in Australia before moving to Britain aged 14, won 10 of the last 11 games in a 6-2 6-1 victory.

The 22-year-old only just missed out on a place in the main draw and is seeded third in qualifying.

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