Svitolina survives Watson scare in Birmingham

Heather Watson took second seed Elina Svitolina to three sets but the Ukrainian proved too good in the Aegon Classic first round.

Elina Svitolina survived a scare in the first round of the Aegon Classic on Monday, but Barbora Strycova enjoyed a comfortable opening win.

The highest seed in the draw following Angelique Kerber's withdrawal, Svitolina found things far from straightforward as she required three sets to see off wildcard Heather Watson 6-2 5-7 6-3.

Watson let her serve fall to love to hand the Ukrainian the opening set, responding well by forcing a decider with a well-timed break in game 11 of the second.

Svitolina upped her game, though, proving far more efficient to complete the win despite letting two match points slip through her grasp beforehand.

Strycova defeated Yulia Putintseva 6-3 6-3 in just one hour and 23 minutes, perhaps leaving time for dinner with a fan after refusing to rule out the option in her on-court interview.

Japanese teenager Naomi Osaka edged out Lauren Davis 6-1 2-6 7-6 (7-4) and Naomi Broady beat Alize Cornet 7-6 (7-3) 6-0 in the remainder of the action.

In Mallorca, second seed Anastasija Sevastova was pushed all the way by Elise Mertens but eventually secured a 7-6 (7-2) 5-7 6-1 victory, while Kristyna Pliskova defeated Timea Babos 6-2 3-6 6-3.

Top seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will return on Tuesday after bad light resulted in her meeting with Sara Sorribes Tormo being suspended while she was a break up at 4-6 7-5 3-2.

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