Watson and Konta start Wimbledon Monday

By Ros Satar

  • Heather Watson faces 32nd seed Caroline Garcia
  • Show court opener for Johanna Konta as she faces former champion Maria Sharapova
  • Naomi Broady may also make Monday’s schedule

London, UK – It is finally here – the start of Wimbledon 2015, and leading the way on Monday will be British No. 1 and 2 Heather Watson and Johanna Konta.

It has been a whirlwind for the 24-year-old Konta, who ended a whistle-stop tour of the Aegon tournaments in her home town of Eastbourne, racking up a staggering six wins over opponents ranked in the Top 100.

Konta rose up to a career high of 89 after last year’s grass court swing, and rose 23 places with her run to the quarter-finals of her home tournament in Eastbourne, admitting that she had been on antibiotics all week.

Her reward? A match up with Maria Sharapova in the first round and the chance to play in front of a home crowd on Centre Court. Needless to say the pair have not met before, but Sharapova grass court credentials need no introduction.

Winning the title as a fresh-faced teenager in 2004 carved her path as one of the fiercest competitors for over a decade, yet she feels she is ready to reclaim those glory days.

But she admitted that her preparation had been a little stilted. Suffering all through the French Open, where she failed to defend her title saw her skip any plans for a warm-up tournament in the new extended grass court season, and return to the US for tests and to recuperate.

She also is not going to underestimate the impact of playing a British wildcard on home turf.

She said, before the tournament: We never played against each other before. That’s always tricky in the first round of a Grand Slam. A British wild card. Saw a couple of her matches in Eastbourne, was it, last week where she had a good result in between my practices.  That was good to have a little bit of a look at her game, see how she plays.

“Ultimately, that’s not extremely important, as you just want to go out and try to figure out things from your end as fast as you can.”

Konta has remained extraordinarily humble throughout all the latest hullabaloo over her results, but if there is one thing that has stood out for me having watched her in Birmingham and in Eastbourne is that she never stops trying. She certainly has it in her to get off to a quick start and Sharapova has been known to take a while to get going. It is a tough ask for her to get the win here, but it certainly is not impossible.

Watson will close out the day’s play on Court No. 2 when she takes on Caroline Garcia. She got the better of the Frenchwoman in their only encounter in Estoril three years ago, but a lot has changed since then, with Garcia emerging as one of the WTA’s Rising Stars, while Watson has come back after illness and started the year well with her second career title in Hobart.

She had a bit of a low patch, and was understandably disappointed not to have picked up more matches over the grass court season. She had to pull out of Nottingham to rest the elbow injury she picked up at the French Open, and picked up a couple of wins in Eastbourne.

This is certainly a winnable match for her, and what impressed over her win over Varvara Lepchenko was her ability to switch her game to a more defensive style when she saw a more aggressive stance was not working. Many will resolutely stick to their game plan no matter what, and as fearless as Garcia can be, she has a tendency to allow her frustrations get the better of her sometimes.

We might also have a treat in seeing Naomi Broady in another winnable encounter. Broady scored a decent scalp in Ajla Tomljanovic before acquitting herself well in Birmingham in the second round against Simona Halep. She is a player that enjoys the moment, and against Mariana Duque-Marino, and with some grass play behind her she could get a decent advance for her wildcard, into the next round.

Konta and Sharapova are scheduled on Centre Court, not before 3pm BST, Watson and Garcia are scheduled on Court 2, not before 5pm BST with Broady and Duque-Marino to be scheduled.

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Full schedules and draws are here: