Flight delays and coronavirus protocols troubled the US Open hopeful before competing at the WTA Lexington event, where a 2-6, 1-6 loss to Jennifer Brady forced a premature exit.
The current world No. 51 had entered off the back of several good wins at the Battle of the Brits.
But back on the WTA tour for the first time since March and against a similarly-ranked opponent who had just edged her at the 2017 Australian Open, she wasn’t quite so fortunate.
Brady never took her foot off the pedal, breaking Watson on both ends of the first set before repeating the process in the second, another decisive break sealing the match.
‘I didn’t actually feel like I played that bad today,’ the sanguine 28-year-old said.
‘I was very inconsistent but those courts are so different, and I didn’t have time to get used to them, partly because we had a nightmare trip getting here.’
After arriving nearly 24 hours later than planned and then requiring a Covid test and approval before practice, Watson had just two days’ preparation and admitted that the situation ‘just wasn’t ideal’.
‘I requested a Tuesday start because of what had happened – instead I’m first on on Monday. So it just wasn’t meant to be,’ she said.
She is now training in Florida during the 10-day window before the Western & Southern Open in New York.
The US Open starts at the end of the month and Watson is still in a buoyant mood after her recent results on British soil.
‘This hasn’t set me back at all,’ she added.
‘I just know what’s happened these last few days and I have to accept it and I still went out there today and tried my best, but it has an effect on how I can play when you can’t prepare.’