Lack of sleep cannot stop Watson in SW19

IN THE lead up to this year’s Wimbledon, Heather Watson’s main concern was that she had not played enough tennis over the past few weeks to be properly match-fit.

Heather Watson after winning her Ladies singles second round match against Qiang Wang during day four of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. Picture date: Thursday June 30, 2022. Picture by PA Wire / PA Images. (30985926)
Heather Watson after winning her Ladies singles second round match against Qiang Wang during day four of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. Picture date: Thursday June 30, 2022. Picture by PA Wire / PA Images. (30985926)

Now, her problem is exactly the opposite. But, as she admits, it’s a nice problem to have.

The 30-year-old Sarnian yesterday booked her place in the third round of the ladies’ singles with a 7-5 6-4 win over Qiang Wang of China, the match having initially started on Wednesday evening before being suspended due to bad light.

Having seen off Wang, Watson promptly returned to her Wimbledon digs to have a nap, and there is a good reason for that. At this year’s Championships, she is already played on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday due to her first-round singles match also taking two days to complete.

On top of that, Watson was scheduled to be back on court yesterday evening in the women’s doubles partnering fellow Brit Harriet Dart. In the event, the match was cancelled – but Watson did not know that when she went for her nap. Small wonder she felt the need for some rest beforehand.

‘I slept awful last night because during my match [against Wang] I had to take caffeine [in gel form] to keep up for it when we’re playing at 9pm at night,’ said Watson.

‘So, yeah, I got probably just shy of four hours’ sleep afterwards.

‘It’s been a really tough few days for me with the scheduling. It has not been on my side at all. I’ve just tried to do the best I could.’

Against Wang, Watson certainly did that, finishing the job she started on Wednesday in front of an ecstatic crowd gathered around Court 18, one of Wimbledon’s show courts.

Now she is into the third round at SW19 for the fourth time in her career.

And, whisper it, Watson has a good chance of progressing into the second week of the tournament for the first time at any of the four major tennis Grand Slams.

That is because she will be facing world No. 62 Kaja Juvan across the net as opposed to one of the more familiar names on the women’s tour, which is exactly what has happened on the three previous occasions when Watson has reached this stage.

‘I respect every single person in the draw,’ said Watson, diplomatically. ‘Everyone can play tennis. You see upsets, especially in the women’s game, just constantly now because the strength and depth is so big.

‘But, yeah, I do see it as an opportunity, just like I saw today as an opportunity. And also, I think, when people look at the draw and see me at Wimbledon on grass, it’s not an easy draw either. But, again, she [Juvan] is probably thinking the same.

‘I’m pretty relaxed about it right now, though. I’ve been here before. I feel as I’ve got older – I’ve been on the tour many years now – my highs aren’t as high, but my lows aren’t as low. I’m more level-headed. I think it’s better being how I am now.’

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