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Wimbledon 2017: Johanna Konta, Heather Watson and Aljaz Bedene through

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What a battle! – Konta wins epic deciding set 10-8

Johanna Konta and Heather Watson won their second-round matches at Wimbledon as two British women reached the last 32 for the first time since 1986.

Sixth seed Konta, 26, won 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 10-8 against Croatia’s Donna Vekic in a tense battle on a hot Centre Court.

Watson, 25, matched her best SW19 run with a stunning 6-0 6-4 win over 18th seed Anastasija Sevastova.

In the men’s draw, fellow Briton Aljaz Bedene, 27, won 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-3 against Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Damir Dzumhur.

Watson and Konta’s victories mean they have become the first two British women to appear in the same third-round draw since Jo Durie and Anne Hobbs three decades ago.

Konta faces Greece’s Maria Sakkari, ranked 101, in the third round, while Watson will play former world number one Victoria Azarenka.

Belarusian Azarenka is competing in her first Slam since giving birth to her first child Leo in December.

Konta comes through Vekic test

Konta had won only one match in the Wimbledon women’s draw before this year, but her rise into the world’s top 10 has seen her marked out by some – including 18-time Grand Slam winner Chris Evert – as a contender for the women’s title.

No British woman has won Wimbledon since Virginia Wade in 1977, nor matched Durie’s run to the last eight in 1984.

Konta’s improved ranking and a decent grass-court season have increased expectations, as did her ruthless first-round win against Hsieh Su-wei who knocked her out of the French Open last month.

But she found it much harder against 21-year-old Vekic, who beat the Briton in the Nottingham Open final last month, in a gripping match lasting three hours and 10 minutes.

Konta saved two set points before going on to win the tie-break in an hour-long opener, then had to battle back from a break down early in the second.

Vekic had a slight wobble as she tried to serve out the set, only to hold off Konta at 30-30 and take the match into a decider.

The pair needed a third set to separate them in Nottingham last month, and this time neither could muster a break point until the 10th game of a gripping decider.

Vekic served to stay in the match at 5-4 down, holding to love, then missed the decider’s first break point as Konta hung on to lead 7-6.

Konta held off another break point in the 17th game, then missed her first match point when Vekic cracked down an ace.

However, she was not denied a second time as she reached the third round for the first time in six attempts.

Watson impressive in quick win

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Watson breezes through second-round match

Watson has dropped outside the world’s top 100 after reaching a high of 38 in January 2015.

The former British number one had only won five tour matches going into the grass-court season, but enjoyed a run to the Eastbourne semi-finals last week on her favourite surface.

After defeat by Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki in the last four, Watson said it was the best preparation she could have had going into her home Grand Slam.

And it showed as she overpowered Sevastova in an opening set where she cracked seven winners and did not make a single unforced error.

Watson wobbled slightly in the second set, losing her serve in the third game with a double fault – one of five in the set – before recovering to win five of the final six games.

“I felt very good at the beginning of match, very on it and relaxed, more than I was in my first match,” Watson told BBC One.

“I obviously know how she plays, she is a great player and I was expecting the best.

“She started to step up in the second set but I was able to keep my cool and just stick with her.

“I feel like I’m seeing the ball very big and am moving well.”

Analysis

Jo Durie, former British number one and Wimbledon quarter-finalist:

I’m not at all surprised by this result. I have been watching Heather Watson for the last few weeks. Her confidence is high and she plays good grass-court tennis. That was a great win.

You can’t just go to the shop and buy confidence, you have to work for it and it has taken months and months for Heather.

Bedene becomes first British man in last 32

Bedene reached the third round of Wimbledon for the first time in his career as he recovered from an error-strewn second set to finally beat Damir Dzumhur 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-3.

In contrast to Bedene’s first-round victory over Ivo Karlovic, in which neither player managed a break of serve until the end of a five-set epic, this erratic encounter featured 11 breaks.

Slovenia-born world number 58 Bedene dominated the opening set with his serve but faltered in the second, with Dzumhur – ranked 83rd in the world – also hitting a series of superb backhand winners.

However, the Bosnian’s own serve fell apart afterwards, with Bedene capitalising to reach the third round of a Grand Slam for only the second time after his run at the 2016 French Open.

He will face Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller on Friday after the 16th seed came through a tough five-set contest with Czech Lukas Rosol 7-5 6-7 (7-9) 4-6 6-3 9-7.

“I was playing quite solid tennis. He gave me a few easy games which helped, so I’m happy,” Bedene told BBC Sport.

“I played Gilles Muller a few weeks ago – he loves grass and is a left-hander with a big serve so he’s never easy to face but I’ll fight and see what happens.”

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