'Ahn no' – out at first hurdle

IF THERE is one thing you can say for certain about Heather Watson, it is that she does not make things easy for herself. Or her fans, for that matter.

So near but yet so far: Heather Watson lost a thriller on No.1 court. (Picture by PA Wire/PA Images, 25122598)
So near but yet so far: Heather Watson lost a thriller on No.1 court. (Picture by PA Wire/PA Images, 25122598)

Take day one at this year’s Wimbledon, for example. In the opening set of her first round women’s singles match against Kristie Ahn of the USA, Watson played some devastatingly impressive tennis for the loss of just two games to seemingly put one foot in the draw for the second round.

At which point the tide turned, as it often tends to do in matches involving Watson, once described as the Jekyll and Hyde of the women’s tour for her somewhat seesaw form.

Having held serve in the opening game of the second set, the 29-year old Sarnian promptly lost two of her next three service games to fall 3-5 behind before recovering to lead 6-5, only to fall apart in a tie-break as Ahn squared the match at a set apiece.

At that point play was halted for 15 minutes while the roof on Court 1 was closed to allow play to continue after dark. Watching Watson sat on her courtside chair, lost in her thoughts, it was anyone’s guess which way the match would tip.

Alas, despite leading for the first seven games of the deciding set and serving for the match at 5-4, Watson just could not get over the finishing line.

Credit, however, to Ahn who simply refused to lie down. As the clock ticked round to 10.17pm, it was the American who clinched victory after a mammoth three hours three minutes of play, prevailing 2-6 7-6 (3) 8-6. Entertaining? Certainly.

Heartbreaking? That too, certainly for Watson and her many supporters.

‘Obviously I’m really disappointed,’ said a clearly emotional Watson afterwards. ‘I felt like I had so many chances, but just didn’t convert any of them.

‘I didn’t return very well at all. Just loads of unforced errors. I didn’t back myself in the big moments.

‘In the moment I did everything I could. I fought as hard as I could. It’s just some days your tennis just does not fall together and today that was it for me, particularly on the backhand side where I made so many unforced errors. Just not good today.'

The Guernsey star will be hoping for better luck when she competes in the mixed doubles, an event which she has won previously.

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