HEATHER Watson found fourth seed Simona Halep in superb form as her French Open came to an end in the second round.
Watson, who followed Andy Murray on to Court 1, made it close in the second set but went down 6-2, 6-4 in an hour and 19 minutes.
Romanian Halep has rocketed up the rankings over the past year, winning more titles than any other woman except Serena Williams. She is the highest seed left in the bottom half of the draw following Li Na’s first-round defeat and the second favourite for the title behind Maria Sharapova, despite having only previously reached one grand slam quarter-final.
Like Watson, Halep is a superb athlete, and the soon-to-be British No 1 found it extremely difficult to pierce her opponent’s defences.
Watson has committed to an attacking brand of tennis, but finding the right balance proved difficult and she certainly made more errors than she would have liked.
The 22-year-old retrieved an early break of serve by Halep to make it 2-2 but the Romanian then reeled off four straight games to clinch the opening set.
Halep moved into an early lead in the second set as well and, although Watson did a good job at hanging on to her serve, so did her opponent.
Watson had two chances to make it 5-5 but could not take either and Halep clinched victory on her second match point with a forehand winner.
Watson smacked the ground with her racket in frustration but her run in Paris, with three qualifying wins and a first-round victory over Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, will lift her ranking significantly from its current 92. She is also guaranteed to overtake the injured Laura Robson to reclaim the British No 1 ranking for the first time since last year’s struggle with glandular fever and will head into the grass court season in good spirits.