‘We’re here to win it’ says Watson after women's doubles progress

THERE were mixed fortunes for Heather Watson over the middle weekend of Wimbledon in the doubles competitions, an area of the sport in which she traditionally excels.

Heather Watson and Harriet Dart during their win at Wimbledon on Saturday. (Picture PA Wire, 29725841)
Heather Watson and Harriet Dart during their win at Wimbledon on Saturday. (Picture PA Wire, 29725841)

Things got off to a disappointing start on Friday evening when she lost in the first round of the mixed pairs event along with her longstanding on-court partner Henri Kontinen of Finland.

Looking understandably rusty having not played together for two years, the duo found themselves 5-0 down in the first set on Court 3 against doubles specialist Joe Salisbury and his partner Harriet Dart.

Although Watson and Kontinen recovered to play some excellent tennis in the second set, they were unable to get the better of their British opponents in a tie-break, losing 6-1 7-6 (3).

‘Harriet and Joe played really well,’ said Watson who, along with Kontinen, memorably won the mixed doubles event at Wimbledon back in 2016.

‘In fact I think that was one of the toughest draws we could have had. They didn’t give us anything.

‘I’ve maybe seen him [Kontinen] once at one of the other tournaments in the time since we last played at Wimbledon (in 2019), what with all the disruption brought about by Covid.

‘I love playing with him, but he’s one of the guys who never hangs out here. He comes for his practice and when he plays, then leaves straight away.

‘In that department we’re a bit chalk and cheese, because I love being here. But we love linking up. I think this is the fifth year now. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t to be.

‘We haven’t spoken about [playing at Wimbledon] next year yet. But we get on so well and he’s a good friend. He’s such an easy going, laid back person. I’d like to think we will.’

There was better news on Saturday as Watson joined forces with Dart, an opponent the previous day, to defeat Petra Martic of Croatia and Shelby Rogers of the USA in the second round of the women’s doubles.

Once again Watson saw the first set slip by with the second going to a tie break. This time, however, her and Dart prevailed to take the match to a deciding third which they dominated to win 3-6 7-6 (6) 6-1.

‘In the first set we didn’t play so good because we didn’t commit to the tactics that we’d set before the match,’ said Watson.

‘The second was very close. We just took care of our service games very well, got through that tight tie break, and then after that I felt we played great tennis. We were super switched on, both of us, super strong at the net, just all round doing better.

‘It’s great to make the second week [of Wimbledon] again, but we’re here to win it, not make up the numbers. We want to go all the way.’

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