Cheered on by an enthusiastic home crowd, which included spectators peering over from Court Two, where compatriot Dan Evans had just won, Watson will know this was an excellent opportunity missed. The world number 55 is ranked 12 places below her opponent but when brave enough to attack she dictated the points, with her first serve also yielding nine aces in the match.
Germany's Annika Beck in action against Great Britain's Heather Watson
Image credit: Reuters
There were too many mistakes in the crucial moments, however, with Watson's 64 unforced errors to Beck's 27 ultimately decisive.
The pair resumed play on Thursday morning with Beck leading 1-0 in the third, after the match had been suspended overnight for rain. Beck had taken a nasty fall shortly before the contest was halted on Wednesday but she showed no signs of injury when the action restarted, instead storming ahead 3-0 and then 4-1.
Watson had begun tentatively, but after violently banging her racket into the turf - for which she received a code violation - she suddenly found a new lease of life. She won the next four games in a row to edge 5-4 up and when a cruel net chord dropped over onto Beck's side of the net, it seemed the momentum had clearly swung.
Watson failed to close out, however, despite leading 6-5, 8-7, 9-8 and 10-9, with victory appearing all-but certain in the last of those as Beck fell 0-40 down on her own serve. Beck survived and, buoyed by her escape, then broke to lead and while Watson saved one match point she could not rescue the second, as another backhand flew long to confirm an agonising defeat.