Heather Watson in the second round of the Nature Valley Open, WTA Nottingham 2018
Heather Watson in the second round of the Nature Valley Open, WTA Nottingham 2018 | (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images for LTA)

Tennis | Roland Garros 2020 | Watson calls for more support for larger pool of players as no Brits advance to the singles second round for first time since 2013

  • Fiona Ferro def. Heather Watson 7-5 6-4
  • On Monday Cameron Norrie and Liam Broady also joined Day 1 casualties Dan Evans Andy Murray and Johanna Konta
  • First time since 2013 that there are no Brits into the second round of the singles
PARIS, FRANCE – Heather Watson departed the singles tournament in Roland Garros, making it six for six out in the first round.


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Fiona Ferro def Heather Watson 7-5 6-4

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It certainly might come to be a match of missed opportunities for Heather Watson, as she just failed to make headway against France’s Fiona Ferro, as for the first time since 2013, no Britons have advanced to the second round for the first time since 2013.

Twice Watson started brightly, breaking the Frenchwoman for an early lead, but as the rain resumed and the conditions became heavier, Watson found herself struggling to slide in the heavy conditions, and Ferro started to regain a foothold in the match. An early lead in the tie-break for Watson was eradicated as Ferro took the first set, and overcame an early break in the second, before breaking Watson once more, and moving on to wrap up the match in straight sets.

For Watson, it has been a real contrast to her domestic restart. She was unbeaten in her singles matches on the Battle of the Brits Team Tennis event, but she has yet to win a match on the tour restart, and with the decimation of the women’s tour after losing the Chinese swing, chances to play before the season ends will be few and far between.

She said, after the match: “I thought that I’ve played a lot better today than I had done in the States. To be honest, I didn’t really enjoy the courts in the States at all. I didn’t feel like I played well one day there.

“I’m pleased that I was timing the ball better here, but obviously it’s all about the result, so not pleased that I didn’t get through that today. That’s life (smiling).

“The year started off great for me. I made semis of Hobart from qualifying, I won Acapulco, then coronavirus happened. To be honest, I didn’t enjoy my lockdown. I’ve been open about that.

“One of my favourite parts of tennis is it being on a big stage, these big tournaments with the crowds. That’s what I love most about tennis, is competing at these big events with the crowd going crazy. I’ve always had good support here in Paris. I struggle with that aspect of it. Yeah, it’s not great results-wise. But I’m not sure what I’ll do the rest of the year yet. I haven’t decided.”


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More support needed for a bigger pool of players

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Admittedly in the midst of pandemic, with a Slam usually played in the warmer summer months in the middle of a very autumnal period, this represent a low point for British tennis, despite having six players in the main draw.

Watson said: “I feel like we’ve got a good little group of players, good little group of players right now, but little. For me, as far as like the next generation goes, Jo is 29, I’m 28, Evo is 30, Norrie is young. Apart from that, I don’t really see who’s next. I don’t see who’s going to be top 50.

“I think personally that more players need to get help rather than just helping your selected players, I don’t know how many there are, but handful of players. I feel like there needs to be a bigger pool of support. That way you’re not spoiled and not given everything at a young age. You need to work for it, learn the grind and the hard work of the tour, what it takes. It would give more people the opportunity.

“Right now, if you don’t have any funding, tennis is an expensive sport, you need help to travel to tournaments, to pay for a coach. It’s so expensive. I haven’t had support since I was 23 years old in that sense.”

There has been a glimpse of what could be in terms of younger players coming up – the first Battle of the Brits and the Progress Tour brought a raft of new names to light, but how much support will they be able to count on as their careers progress?

Watson continued: “We’ve had great players. We’ve had Jo Konta, top 10. Andy Murray has been flying the flag for so, so long. Then you’ve got, like, your me’s, your Evo’s, your Norrie’s, your Ked’s we’ve all had great careers so far. Still got years to go yet.

“You have your talented people, but you also have your hard workers, the people that are dedicated. It’s not just the talented people that get through. If you give the hard workers an opportunity, too, you’ll have more of a pool of players. The more competition there is… When you see your countrymen and women doing well, it spurs you on, it inspires you, it inspires people to play the sport in general. I just think resources should be spread around rather than concentrated.

“But I definitely wouldn’t want to get involved because of the politics. There’s loads of politics involved. If I’m honest, I don’t think my voice would be heard anyway.”

Watson will partner Lara Arruabarrena in the doubles at Roland Garros.


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