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Heather Watson beaten by Ekaterina Alexandrova at Abu Dhabi Open

British No 2 Heather Watson out of the Abu Dhabi Open while Elina Svitolina reaches the third round with victory over Russian veteran Vera Zvonareva; Karolina Pliskova eliminated in straight sets by a qualifier

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 No 2 seed Elina Svitolina.

Svitolina marched through with a 6-4 6-1 win over Russian veteran Vera Zvonareva

Russian qualifier Anastasia Gasanova, who made her maiden WTA main draw appearance this week, could barely believe what she achieved on Saturday after breezing past former world No 1 Karolina Pliskova.

The 21-year-old qualifier, ranked 292nd, had won her first-ever tour-level match in the opening round of the WTA 500 event to set up the clash with Czech Pliskova in her first meeting with a top 100 player.

But Gasanova, whose goal is to break into the top 200 this year, took just 72 minutes to secure a 6-2 6-4 victory.

“It was not me on the court,” Gasanova told reporters amid continuous giggles. “I was so sure of myself. I’m really happy right now.

“I’m really surprised, but when I woke up today, I thought, ‘Why not? Why can’t I win this match?’. Actually, I thought I would lose in qualifiers or something like that, but I just kept pushing myself, like, I need to win and I want to win.”

Gasanova will next play Spain’s 66th ranked Sara Sorribes Tormo in the last 16.

Garbine Muguruza progressed with a 6-1 6-4 win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich. Next up for Muguruza is ninth-seeded Maria Sakkari, who eliminated Coco Gauff 7-5 6-2.

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