British tennis star Heather Watson storms to victory in Abu Dhabi
Britain’s Heather Watson has advanced into the second round of the Abu Dhabi WTA Women's Tennis Open against compatriot Jodie Burrage.
The 28 year-old fought hard to win 4-6 6-2 7-5 against Burrage which marked the first time British women competed in a tour-level main-draw match since September.
World No 58 Watson last played on tour at the French Open at the end of September, while this was 21 year-old Burrage’s tour debut.
Watson said after the match: "I’m very happy to get through that one. I’m not taking anything away from Jodie, I know what a great player she is but my level was way off today.
“I couldn’t find my serve, my forehand, backhand. I just didn’t feel good out there. But I thought I just fought really well and was able to scrap and just kept trying to the end and somehow got through it.”
Watson will next face Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova on Saturday.
Players will be treating the event as an opportunity to prepare for the Australian Open taking place in February.
Four of the world’s top ten stars are currently competing in Abu Dhabi including Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, Elina Svitolina, Karolina Pliskova and Aryna Sabalenka.
Kenin sealed her spot in the second round after overcoming China's Yang Zhaoxua, as Svitolina won in straight sets against American Jessica Pegula.
Former world number one Pliskova and Sabalenka also won their opening matches as US rising star Coco Gauff beat Ulrikke Eikeri.