Top seed Svitolina starts with win over Watson

Japan's Naomi Osaka returns to USA's Lauren Davis at the Birmingham Classic women's tennis tournament at the Edgbaston Priory Birmingham central England Monday

Japan's Naomi Osaka returns to USA's Lauren Davis at the Birmingham Classic women's tennis tournament at the Edgbaston Priory Birmingham central England Monday

Second-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine survived a huge scare before prevailing in her opening-round match in the Aegon Classic on Monday at Birmingham, England.

Svitolina overcame the British No. 2, the victor when they met on grass at Eastbourne two years ago, by surviving a worrying mid-match dip when her first serve deserted her, and won 6-2, 5-7, 6-3.

The 25-year-old had every reason to be optimistic before her clash against the world No 5, with the Ukrainian only having won four matches on grass.

Otherwise she trusted in her power off the ground to deny the tenacious and intelligent Watson enough time to make court-opening angles and sudden darts to the net.

Having beaten Svitolina at Eastbourne in 2015 - before a loss on the Rio Olympics hard surface previous year - this was an indicator of where Watson is now at. She can be a very unsafe player.

"I have confidence with me, but still I was very happy that I could play my game in the tough moments, in the third set, even though I lost second set in very tough moments", Svitolina said. I don't put this kind of pressure on myself. I play my game, of course with a few small adjustments. "I came back strong and didn't let the negative things go in my head and was fighting, this was very good today".

Svitolina may next play Natalia Vikhlyantseva, the Russian who reached the final in 's-Hertogenbosch last week, and has a possible semi-final either with third seed Johanna Konta or Garbine Muguruza.

That is because the late withdrawal on Sunday of Angelique Kerber, the World No 1 - which caused Svitolina's elevation to the highest remaining seed - is only the last in a long list of injury-triggered big-name losses for the tournament.

"Could some of the players have pushed themselves to play?".

"Would they have done, if this had been Wimbledon? Would they have done, if this had been Wimbledon?" he asked "I suspect we have just been unlucky".