Guernsey Press

‘Rankings-wise it has been a rubbish year’

HEATHER WATSON says it is difficult not to feel ‘hard done by’ after a year of struggle on the tour following her career-best Wimbledon performance last season.

Heather Watson addressed the media at the Rothesay Open 2023 at the Nottingham Tennis Centre. (Picture by Zac Goodwin/PA Wire, 32205587)

The 31-year-old produced the best grand slam display of her singles career in 2022 when she made the second week for the first time, eventually going out in the fourth round.

But it counted for nothing in the rankings as the WTA and ATP stripped the tournament of points in response to the decision to ban Russian and Belarussian players following Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

In normal circumstances Watson would have received 240 points, which would have seen her ranking soar and then seen her gain automatic entry into other tournaments, but the reality saw her scratching around on the second-tier ITF Tour and she has not played in a grand slam since.

‘It wasn’t Wimbledon’s fault, it wasn’t their choice but yeah, I do feel a little bit hard done by,’ Watson, who beat Jule Niemeier in the first round at the Nottingham Open, told the PA news agency.

‘It’s not their fault, but I wish I had the points, it would have been a very different story, but hey-ho.

‘I feel like that after Wimbledon I went from an all-time high in my career and then not being awarded any points there really affected my tournament entries, being main draw in grand slams, I probably would have been main draw for the rest of the year and it just had a domino effect.

‘I couldn’t get into WTA tournaments so I was playing ITFs. I was winning them all but the points are rubbish so it doesn’t help my ranking at all.

‘You are playing top 100 girls in the ITF. I feel like dropping down to play was good for matches and you were playing players who aren’t the same level, but the strength in depth in women’s tennis has grown so much. Rankings-wise it has been a real rubbish year but I have actually won more matches.’

Her win over Niemeier in Nottingham will do little to boost her current ranking of 195, which will leave her needing a wild card if she is to get direct entry into this year’s event at SW19.

Asked whether she will have to qualify, she said: ‘I don’t know, I have applied for a wild card so I hope I get one.’

Watson on her first round win at Rothesay Open Nottingham,