Britain’s Heather Watson bowed out of the Abu Dhabi Open in a gruelling second-round defeat to 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.
Heather Watson was eliminated after a tough three-set battle against Ekaterina Alexandrova
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.
Watson had beaten fellow Briton Jodie Burrage in the first round of the tournament 4-6 6-2 7-5.
The 28-year-old is 58th in the world and is gearing up for next month’s Australian Open, where she will hope to emulate her best finish there since 2013, when she reached the third round before being swept aside by Agnieszka Radwanska.
Watson will compete alongside Johanna Konta and Katie Boulter at the Melbourne WTA event
Before the start of 2021’s first Grand Slam, Watson will compete at the Melbourne WTA 500 event alongside compatriots Johanna Konta and Katie Boulter.
The event has a star-studded list of entrants, with Simona Halep, Naomi Osaka, Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin and home favourite Ashleigh Barty all vying for victory.