Britain’s Heather Watson beaten in Abu Dhabi as the world No.1 also crashes out

Heather Watson

Britain’s Heather Watson bowed out of the Abu Dhabi Open in a gruelling second-round defeat by 17th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova.

The 26-year-old Russian eventually prevailed 7-5, 6-7 (7-9) 6-3 after a tense showdown which lasted more than two and a half hours with the pair converting only eight of the 19 break points they set up between them.

Alexandrova took the first set 7-5, but was pegged back in the second as Watson came out on top in a lengthy tie-break.

The decider was equally tight until Watson was broken in the eighth game, and her opponent served out the match to book a third-round clash with number two seed Elina Svitolina. Meanwhile there was a big shock as  Russian qualifier Anastasia Gasanova pulled off a major upset with victory over former world number one Karolina Pliskova in Abu Dhabi.

The 21-year-old, ranked 292 in the world and playing in her first WTA Tour main draw, took 77 minutes to claim a 6-2 6-4 victory and advance to the last 16.Gasanova matched Pliskova, the current world number six, shot for shot and broke her four times whilst only conceding her own serve once.Second seed Elina Svitolina avoided an upset as she overcame Russian veteran Vera Zvonareva 6-4 6-1 in 69 minutes.Two-time Grand Slam champion Garbina Muguruza also reached the last 16 after easing past Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 6-1 6-4.

Maria Sakkari came from a double-break down in the first set to advance with a 7-5 6-2 win over 16-year-old American Coco Gauff.

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