Heather Watson discovered yesterday what most of the rest of the WTA Tour has learned over the past 12 months:

Simona Halep is the genuine article.

It is six years since the Romanian won the junior title at the French Open: usually, but not always, a precursor for a good senior career.

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That it has taken her this long to get to this stage is a discussion point of its own but Halep showed Watson that, for all the Guernsey girl's recent improvement, the 22-year-old still has a way to go after Halep registered a 6-2, 6-4 victory which exuded confidence.

Watson has done superbly to break back into the top 100 after suffering from glandular fever and then recent injury but No.4 seed Halep was too solid, too consistent and too good in the end. The only sign of anything untoward came when Watson fought back to 5-4 in the second set, but Halep held on to take her place in the third round.

"Simona played very well, as I knew she would," said Watson. "I don't think I was on my best game. I made a lot more unforced errors than I usually do and I wasn't helping myself getting any free points with my serve. But she made hardly any unforced errors. She made me make those unforced errors. I've got to give her credit for that.

"That last game could have really changed it. I felt she was a bit nervous in that last game. I didn't take advantage. I'm disappointed that I didn't do better today. I really expected more from myself. It happens and I'll just take these weeks as a positive for the grass."

Watson will take some solace from the fact that, as her ranking rises into the low 70s, she will overtake Laura Robson to regain the British No.1 ranking. That constitutes bragging rights, if little else. She has added power and a bit of risk-taking to her natural defensive, athletic game and though one or two unforced errors are a natural result, she believes it will pay dividends in the long run.

"That's the way forward," she said. "It's what's going to win big matches. It's what's going to beat top opponents. I'm definitely going to keep doing that. I kind of went into the last grasscourt season a bit scared and just hoping I'd play okay. But this time it's very different. I'm going in and I want to win. I want to go far and I want to make the second week [at Wimbledon]."

With Serena Williams gone from the top half of the draw and Li Na from the bottom, the rest of the field must fancy their chances, including Halep, whose six titles in the second half of last year allowed her to shoot up the rankings. Most people thought she would not stay there but she has improved still further and has added belief to her athleticism and ability. It is a potent combination.

Almost everyone else is considered to be flying under the radar in the draw, but former champions Ana Ivanovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova have to believe anything is possible now. Ivanovic, the third favourite for the title she won in 2008, impressed in a 7-5, 6-2 win over Elina Svitolina, while Kuznetsova saw off talented Italian Camila Giorgi 7-6, 6-3.

So too, fifth seed Petra Kvitova, the next opponent for Kuznetsova after a decent 6-4, 6-4 win over Marina Erak­ovic of New Zealand.