Watson Faces Hantuchova – Wimbledon R2 Preview

By Ros Satar

  • Into second round for just third time in her career
  • Keen to get revenge for only loss at 2014 Australian Open

British No. 1 Heather Watson faces Daniela Hantuchova in the second round at Wimbledon, on Wednesday.

It was a nervy affair on Tuesday afternoon as Caroline Garcia and Watson resumed their suspended match in the heat of the sun, after a late start and being shunted out to Court 12. Watson would be the first to admit that she had been caught napping in the opening set on Monday, and fought back to level terms before bad light stopped play.

It was vital she got off to a far quicker start this time, as she battled to advance to the second round for just the second time in her career. It was Watson who took the advantage with a solid break, having saved three match points, but as she attempted to serve out the match, Garcia struck back.

It took some resolve to take advantage of a no doubt brooding Garcia, as Watson broke once more, finally getting the upper hand with two match points of her own.

Ever the perfectionist, Watson was the first to admit she needed to knuckle down.

“I only thought for a second that it maybe wasn’t meant to be this time.  But I said, No matter what, if she wants this match, she’s going a have to win it, I’m not going to give it to her. I just stuck in there.  Before I knew it, it was now my turn to close the match.

“I had quite a few chances leading up to that point to break in two of her service games. Then I was serving out the match. But, you know, it was tense.  It was a first‑round match. I’m just pleased that I was able to correct my mistakes the second time, serving out the match. I made sure I made a few more first serves. I think that made the difference.”

Having just faced Hantuchova the once, there is the chance to get a little revenge for a first round defeat at the Australian Open last year.

She continued: “She’s an experienced player. She’s been at the top of the game. She plays very well on grass. So it definitely won’t be easy. But I really look forward to playing her again.”

Hantuchova may have fallen a little down the rankings of late, but she has a solid serve and ground-strokes off both wings, and can cover a lot of court quickly with those long legs. What has impressed us about Watson was her ability to adapt her game when things were not working, in Eastbourne. She has been focussing on being far more aggressive of late, and sharpening up her serve, but she has a great instinctive defensive game, and she proved she could also make that work for her. If she can keep her head, her variety of shot and a little consistency could go a long way.

Watson and Hantuchova are scheduled on Court No. 1, not before 3pm BST.