Guernsey Press

Watson and Salisbury still in the mix

THERE was good news and bad news for Heather Watson in the Wimbledon doubles events over what proved to be a rain-interrupted weekend at London SW19.

Joe Salisbury and Heather Watson during their mixed doubles match on day seven of the 2023 Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon. (Picture by John Walton/PA Wire, 32294339)

First, the bad news. Despite winning the first set of their second round ladies’ pairs match against the Slovakian duo Viktoria Hruncakova and Tereza Mihalikova, Watson and her on-court partner Harriet Dart still contrived to lose 6-1 2-6 4-6 on Saturday afternoon.

Defeat was even harder to take as the British pair outscored their opponents in terms of overall points won by 74 to 70, such are the vagaries of the tennis scoring system which makes the sport so fascinating and yet occasionally frustrating.

Watson had been due to play two matches on Saturday, but the rain delays forced her first round mixed doubles match alongside new partner Joe Salisbury to be put back until Sunday.

And that’s where the good news comes in, as the Brits cruised to a 6-1 6-4 victory on Court 8 over Nathaniel Lammons of the USA and Giuliana Olmos of Mexico.

'Yesterday [Saturday] was such a downer, and this definitely made up for it,' said Watson of her victory alongside Salisbury.

'I just decided to put all my focus on the mixed and I’m so excited to play with Joe. We’re the same age, so we’ve grown up in tennis together. I’ve known him my whole tennis life, so I’m really happy to share the court with him.

'He is such an incredible player and has achieved so much on the doubles court. His demeanour is very similar to that of Henri [Kontinen, who Watson won the mixed doubles title with at Wimbledon in 2016]. They’re both really calm and softly spoken. I’m the one who’s being noisy out there and cracking the jokes.

'But he has got a really even temperament and is super-supportive, just like Henri was. They’re both amazing to play with. Even after this first match with Joe, I feel we can do something.'