Watson upsets Putintseva and Andreescu starts strong at Thailand Open

Heather Watson. Image: WTA Thailand Open

Great Britain’s Heather Watson caused an upset on Tuesday, ousting the No.2 seed Yulia Putintseva, in the opening round of the 2023 Thailand Open presented by E@.

Watson, currently ranked 160, to Putintseva’s 44, lost out in a close first set 57 but came back strongly to win the second set 64.  Despite taking an early lead 52 in the third set and a 5-1 lead in the tie-break the Brit eventually edged to victory 57 64 76(5) and acknowledged that she knew the match would be a tough battle:

“Firstly, I’m really happy with the result. When I looked at the draw, I thought oh, that’s a really tough one.  I’ve played her a few times before and I’ve been on the tour for many years with her so I know what a fighter she is, and she’s quite expressive on the court. She doesn’t quit and in fact produces her best tennis when she’s down and out.

“So really happy with how I fought through that. I find that when you win matches that are so close like that it gives you a lot more confidence and prepares you a lot more than it would if it was a straightforward win. So very happy with that, especially as I haven’t had too many matches to start the year. So I’m trying to play every week at the moment and get as much practice as possible.”

Bianca Andreescu. Image: WTA Thailand Open

Top seed Bianca Andreescu made an impressive start to her campaign with a straight sets win over another Brit, Harriet Dart, 63 64 and was pleased with her performance:

“I think I played really well. I felt like I lost my concentration just a little bit, waiting around all day isn’t fun, so I was a bit tired but I’m super glad that I bounced back and was able to finish off the match.”

The Canadian has been enjoying her first visit to Thailand and soaking up the sights and tastes of Hua Hin:

“I had a week and a bit to explore Thailand so I did a few things, I went to the beach, went to all the markets, maybe like three or four times, bought a lot of things and a lot of good food. And the people are so so nice, so I’m really enjoying myself.”

Seventeen year-old Linda Fruhvirtova made a confident start to the event, making short work of wild card Bethanie Mattek-Sands 63 61 and explained that she learns from every match she plays:

“I feel pretty good. I mean, the first round is always tricky and Bethanie is a tricky opponent so I’m happy I handled it and I’m excited for the next match.

“It’s good to see the hard work paying off right at the start of the season. The experience just keeps coming and I’m trying to build on the good matches but even the bad matches.  I think the matches I lost definitely helped me to win matches, maybe like at the Australian Open, so I think it’s important to learn from your losses and keep your head up and work hard and the results will come.”

2019 Thailand Open Champion Dayana Yastremska was tested by Japan’s Moyuka Uchijima but prevailed 63 67(3) 62 whilst Germany’s Tatjana Maria showed her experience over 17 year-old qualifier Alexandra Eala, winning in straight sets 62 62.

R32 – [WC] [1] B. Andreescu (CAN) d. H. Dart (GBR) 63 64

R32 – A. Zakharova d. A. K. Schmiedlova (SVK) 36 75 63

R32 – N. Hibino (JPN) d. [Q] V. Savinykh 60 62

R32 – [5] M. Kostyuk (UKR) d. [Q] E. Liang (TPE) 67(7) 63 60

R32 – [4] A. Kalinskaya d. [Q] E. Makarova 61 61

R32 – D. Yastremska (UKR) d. M. Uchijima (JPN) 63 67(3) 62

R32 – [6] T. Maria (GER) d. [Q] A. Eala (PHI) 62 62

R32 – [8] L. Fruhvirtova (CZE) d. [WC] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) 63 61

R32 – N. Han (KOR) d. E. Ruse (ROU) 64 16 64

R32 – H. Watson (GBR) d. [2] Y. Putintseva (KAZ) 57 64 76(5)

R16 – [1] E. Perez (AUS) / T. Zidansek (SLO) d. [SR] M. Adamczak (AUS) / R. Van Der Hoek (NED) 76(3) 61

R16 – H. Chan (TPE) / F. Wu (TPE) d. E. Routliffe (NZL) / X. Wang (CHN) 61 75