Guernsey Press

Watson is the Centre of attention as rain finally eases off

As far as Wimbledon is concerned, Heather Watson is the queen of the mixed doubles scene.

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Heather Watson playing on Centre Court at Wimbledon in the second round of the mixed doubles. (Picture by Mike Egerton/PA Wire, 33408330)

She won the title there in 2016. She finished runner-up in 2017. The other players in the draw admire and respect her. The crowds at the All England Club warm to her heart-on-the-sleeve style of play. They love to see her in action in the mixed pairs.

All of which has made the past few days extremely hard, because Watson and her on-court partner Joe Salisbury have not seen a lot of action.

This is how it usually works at Wimbledon – on the first Friday of the tournament, or occasionally on the Thursday afternoon, the mixed doubles event gets under way. By Wednesday of the second week, it tends to be entering its final stages.

Not this year.

With the weather having been as bad as any Wimbledon in recent memory, Watson and Salisbury found themselves going into yesterday having only completed one match, an abridged first-round encounter settled by a 10-point tiebreak brought in to help reduce the vast backlog of matches.

Instead of entertaining the masses, Watson has spent most of her time in the locker room, waiting to be called, praying for the rain to stop, which, until yesterday, it had not.

When, at last, it did, there was to be a surprise in store.

With Alex de Minaur withdrawing from his men’s quarter-final against Novak Djokovic due to a hip injury, a gap in the schedule suddenly open up on Centre Court.

At which point Wimbledon bosses, conscious that they needed a familiar face or two to fill the void in front of an expectant crowd, sent for Heather Watson and Joe Salisbury, who had been set to play on Court 2.

In the end it was not to be for the British pair, who battled well over the course of two sets before going down 7-6 6-4 to Jan Zielinski and Su-Wei Hsieh, the number seven seeds and reigning Australian Open champions, in an entertaining second-round encounter.

‘It has been a bit flat, and the rain really sucks, but that helped make up for it, despite the defeat,’ said Watson of her unexpected Centre Court appearance.

‘I really wanted more, especially after losing in the first round of the singles, and it hasn’t really happened. It’s been a bit heart-breaking really.

‘I just want to do my best at my favourite tournament of the year, and I haven’t felt I’ve done that. Losing is not what I came here for.

‘It just seems to have been a thing this summer. The weather was terrible at Roland Garros too.

‘When you think of Wimbledon, you think of clear skies – or at least I do, because it’s always been good weather when I’ve been here. But not this year.

‘Yeah, it does really suck.’