Abu Dhabi Open: Heather Watson joins Emma Raducanu in last-16 after win over Veronika Kudermetova | Tennis News

Heather Watson made an impressive start to the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open with a straight-sets victory over ninth seed Veronika Kudermetova.

Watson booked her place in the main draw of the WTA 500 event after defeating former Grand Slam champion Sofia Kenin and Swiss player Rebeka Masarova in qualifying, with the former British No 1 continuing her run with another impressive display on Tuesday afternoon.

The 31-year-old broke Kudermeteova twice on her way to taking the opening set, then edged further ahead after breaking again in the 11th game of a tight second before seeing out a 6-3 7-5 victory.

Victory is her first over a top-20 player since beating Elina Svitolina at Miami in 2022 and sets up a last-16 meeting with Spain’s Cristina Bucsa, with her win seeing her join compatriot Emma Raducanu in the next round.

“Obviously I know she’s such a great player, so I knew I had to play really well today,” Watson said on-court after her victory. “I just focused on what was in my control, my serve and just trying to be as aggressive as I can because otherwise she’ll beat me to the punch. But yeah, played really well and had a lot of fun out here.

Heather Watson of Britain returns the ball to Veronika Kudermetova during a match of the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open tennis tournament, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Heather Watson will play Spain’s Cristina Bucsa in the next round

“I played a Grand Slam champion [Sofia Kenin] in my first [qualifying] round, so that gave me a lot of confidence and every player here is so good. So I think that really helped and I knew the conditions and I felt really prepared for today.”

Elsewhere, Harriet Dart secured a straight sets win over Hungary’s Anna Bondar to book a place in the second round of the Transylvania Open-

Harriet Dart
Harriet Dart made a winning start at the Transylvanian Open

Dart came back from a break and 4-2 down in the first set to win 6-4 7-6 (7-0) and will play Emiliana Arango or fifth seed Elisabetta Cocciaretto. The 27-year-old won two qualifying matches to get into the main draw of the WTA 250 tournament.

Raducanu: I have nothing to lose against Jabeur

Emma Raducanu believes she has nothing to lose ahead of her last-16 match against Ons Jabeur in Abu Dhabi, a player she says has taken the Briton “under her wing” since joining the tour.

Former US Open champion Raducanu got off to a winning start in her first-round match, beating world No 26 Marie Bouzkova 6-4 6-1. She will now face No 2 seed Jabeur on Wednesday, in their first WTA Tour meeting, in her quest for a quarter-final place.

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Highlights of Emma Raducanu’s straight-sets victory against Marie Bouzkova at the Abu Dhabi Open

“She’s definitely the home favourite here, rightfully so,” Raducanu said. “I really like Ons, she’s someone who’s kind of taken me under her wing as I’ve been new to the tour.

“I’m really looking forward to it because a lot of people were saying to me [during first-round match], ‘Oh, Ons, Ons, Ons!’ And I was like, ‘I’m playing Marie who’s ranked like 30 in the world, so that’s not an easy match!’

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Emma Raducanu says she was ‘very happy’ to beat ‘tough’ opponent Marie Bouzkova in straight sets to reach the round of 16 of the WTA Tour’s Abu Dhabi Open

“But I’m really pleased to have put myself in this situation, and I’m going out with nothing to lose against her.”

Sky Sports launches tennis channel

Sky Sports has confirmed a new home for tennis in the UK and Ireland, with Sky Sports Tennis to launch on Sky and NOW from February 11, making tennis content available every day for fans.

Sky Sports will broadcast more live tennis than anywhere else, bringing over 4,000 matches from more than 80 tournaments a year on the ATP and WTA Tours, as well as full US Open coverage.

The stars of tennis will appear on the new Sky Sports Tennis channel every day

Sky Sports Tennis will be available to Sky Sports customers with Complete, Action and Arena packages, with viewers able to access multiple live court streams at the same time via the Sky Sports mobile app, the Sky TV app or red button and on NOW Bonus Streams, giving access to more live matches.

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