New York: Heather Watson's US Open drought continued as the British number one bowed out in the first round to America's Lauren Davis.
Heather Watson. Pic/AFP
Watson has struggled for form since her dramatic Wimbledon battle with Serena Williams eight weeks ago and there was to be further disappointment in New York as Davis won 7-6 (7/3) 7-6 (7/0).
It means Watson has now failed to reach the second round at the US Open, where she was crowned junior champion in 2009, in five attempts.
Her lack of success at Flushing Meadows has been in part due to difficult draws, with Maria Sharapova, Li Na and Simona Halep all previous conquerors, but Davis, ranked 23 spots lower at 84 in the world, represented a very realistic opportunity of progress.
Watson has been eager this year to add aggression to her more natural abilities in speed, tenacity and defence but the balance seemed to be tipped too far against Davis, who waited patiently behind the baseline and cashed in on her opponent's mistakes.
Watched by Greg Rusedski and former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli, Watson was certainly not without chances, starting in the sixth game of the first set.
A backhand long from Davis opened up three break points, but the American saved all of them, the last with a stretching forehand volley.
Eight consecutive holds were followed by four straight breaks as Watson saved a set point at 5-4 before forcing a tie-break.
The 23-year-old remained courageous in the tightest moments, but Davis seemed only to feed off her opponent's pace and a counter-attacking forehand, shown on review to have just nipped the line, presented three set points, the first of which she converted for a one-set lead.
Watson fought hard in the second, coming back from 3-1 and a break down to lead 5-4, but she wavered when serving for the set, before bouncing her racket into the court in frustration.
Two holds ensured another tie-break but Watson this time was blown away, failing to recover from a mammoth third point, allowing Davis to cruise into round two for the first time. She will now play Russia's number 13 seed Ekaterina Makarova.