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Watson battles in vain

Heather Watson was unable to celebrate returning to the top 50 with victory as she was beaten in three sets by Zhang Shuai in the opening round of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

The British No 1 reached 46 in the rankings on Monday thanks to her run to the third round in Montreal last week.

She had qualified comfortably for the main draw in Cincinnati but came out on the wrong side of a topsy-turvy clash with China's Zhang, losing 6-3 2-6 7-5.

At a set and 2-0 down, Watson looked in big trouble, but she reeled off six games in a row only to drop the first three games of the decider.

Back she came again, and she saved two match points before breaking Zhang when the world No 31 served for the match the first time at 5-4.

But Watson's much-improved serve was having an off day and she handed the break straight back.

This time Zhang seized her chance and Watson showed her frustration by flinging her racquet across the court.

It has nevertheless been a good couple of weeks for the Guernsey player, who will now turn her attention to preparing for the US Open, which begins on August 25.

In other first round action, Madison Keys won four of her eight break points to see off Alize Cornet - nemesis of Serena Williams at Wimbledon - 6-2 6-4.

Her fellow American Taylor Townsend also advanced with a 6-3 4-6 7-5 win over Klara Koukalova, but wildcard Lauren Davis was beaten by Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.

Italian qualifier Karin Knapp beat Belinda Bencic 6-2 7-6 (7/1), while Kirstens Flipkens beat Polona Hercog 6-3 6-2 and Pauline Parmentier got the better of Casey Dellacqua by a 7-6 (7/4) 6-2 scoreline.