The British number one was resilient in the fierce mid-day heat, and edged closer to beating her career-high ranking with a sometimes agonising 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 victory over Russia’s Evgeniya Rodina to make the Miami Open second round.
Having beaten a host of highly regarded players to reach the fourth round of Indian Wells last week, she nearly came unstuck against the nuggety Russian, ranked a modest 95 in the world. It was a testament to Watson’s fighting qualities, rather than an advert for the silky skills of the WTA Tour, but hardly less worthy for that.
Watson is currently ranked 41 in the world, three off her all-time best. She now faces Germany’s Angelique Kerber, the number fifteen seed, who has tumbled out of the top ten and is scratching around for any kind of form in 2015.
The British number one is having to do it solo as well, as the only female player from Wimbledon’s host nation to inhabit the top 150 in Laura Robson’s absence. It is a bleak situation, and there seems little in the way of any coherent performance plan from the Lawn Tennis Association to improve things.
The 22 year-old from Guernsey usually benefits in these conditions from having spent much of her teenage years in Florida, although not much can make the kind of steaming heat encountered on Wednesday much more comfortable
After recovering from a start that made it hard to believe she had beaten Agnieszka Radwanska last week – her first top ten scalp – Watson appeared to have cracked her opponent by forging a 5-2 lead in the third.
When serving for it at 5-3, however, she could not finds a first serve and was broken. She just about squeezed through when she broke Rodina at 6-5, the Russian hurling her racket across the court on the final point that she lost via a net cord.
Earlier Andy Murray had found out his opponent in the second round of the men’s event to be played on Friday after receiving a bye. American Donald Young, who he beat recently in the Davis Cup, went through when his opponent Yen Hsun Lu defaulted with injury at 1-5 down.
British youngster Kyle Edmund is due to be play Wednesday evening in the first round against Dutchman Robin Haase.