HEATHER WATSON pulled off another great escape at the Australian Open to set up a third-round clash with fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska.
Watson saved three match points in a second-set tie break before powering back to beat Ksenia Pervak 4-6 7-6 (9/7) 6-2.
It was the second match in succession the British number one had found herself a set and a break down but she pulled through to give herself a chance at gaining revenge on Pole Radwanska, who thrashed her at Wimbledon last year.
Asked if she thought she had blown the opportunity to reach the last 32 of a grand slam for just the second time in her career, Watson admitted: “I’m not going to lie, I did a wee bit.
“But I just pushed it to the back of my mind and said ‘she’s going to have to win this’. I just didn’t want to give it away.”
Despite being roared on by a vociferous crowd, Watson looked nervous in an errorstrewn opening set.
The 20-year-old threw in 19 unforced errors compared to just three winners as Pervak’s greater weight of shot prompted her to go for more.
When another wayward backhand saw her go 2-0 down in the second it was again looking an uphill struggle.
But for a dubious line call it would have been 3-0, but Watson made the most of her fortune to break back and then level at 2-2.
It remained on serve until the breaker which appeared to be going the way of the Kazakh when a poor forehand gave Pervak three chances to claim the match at 6-3.
But world number 50 Watson dug deep to get out of trouble and claim it on her second set point.
After a second lengthy comfort break, Pervak returned but her will had been broken.
Watson cruised into a 4-0 lead and then served it out, prompting jubilant scenes.
Things are about to get much tougher in the shape of in-form Radwanska.
The world number four earlier recorded her 11th win on the trot against Irina-Camelia Begu. She has yet to drop a set this calendar year and warmed up for Melbourne by claiming the titles in Auckland and Sydney.
“She’s a very different player to most of the girls,” said Watson. “She’s consistent, got great feel so it’s going to be another physical match.
“I think the last time I played her I just went out all guns blazing, went for way too much.
“This time I’m coming in a different player and I’m going to approach it differently.”