LONDON, July 7 (Reuters) - New mother Victoria Azarenka reached the last 16 of Wimbledon on Friday with a nerve-jangling 3-6 6-1 6-4 win over home favourite Heather Watson.
Azarenka, the former world number one, who is returning to tennis after the birth of her son in December, was stung into action after Watson had ridden a patriotic wave to the first set.
Despite throwing in three double-faults to Watson’s one, she broke twice to win the second and set up a decider.
Watson kicked off the third set serving, and pushed her nose in front. The Briton was finding it tough to hold, though, while Azarenka breezed through her service games.
The Belarussian clinched a break in a 10-minute seventh game, but Watson hit straight back to level it 4-4 and set off a roar within the arena. But it was only a temporary reprieve, as Azarenka punched straight back before serving out.
“I really stepped up in the key moments,” she said.
Azarenka will next play either second-seeded Romanian Simona Halep or China’s Peng Shuai for a place in the quarters.
Editing by: Clare Lovell