British starlet Heather Watson is through to the fourth round at Wimbledon for the first time after defeating Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan in straight sets.
Court One roared with delight after the 30-year-old from Guernsey beat world No 62 Juvan 7-6 6-2, as she and Katie Boulter raise Britain’s hopes of tennis success at SW19 this year after Emma Raducan and Andy Murray crashed out early.
Love Island fan Watson, whose mother is from Papa New Guinea, has overcome racism, death threats and failed relationships with male tennis players including Lloyd Glasspool to get to the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career.
Watson has slipped to 121st in the world rankings and fourth in Britain, and although she has tasted notable success in doubles, she has never been able to sustain a challenge in singles at the top level, her best Wimbledon performances being reaching the third round three times.
She came through an awkward first set full of slices and drop shots against 21-year-old Juvan and did not let her head drop after blowing three set points in the tiebreak before taking it 8-6 on a double fault by the 60th-ranked Slovenian.
Energised, Watson blasted to a 5-0 lead in the second set, adding power and confidence to her groundstrokes, and though Juvan launched a late rally, Watson prevailed to cap a week to remember in which she has been on court five days in a row after her first two matches ran into second days.
Kissing the grass after her win, the Channel Islander then joked in her post-match interview with the BBC: ‘It wouldn’t be me without its fair share of drama’.
Channel Islander Heather Watson celebrating her third-round victory at Wimbledon today
Watson kissed the grass at Court One as she beat Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan today
An ectastic Watson celebrating getting through to the fourth round of Wimbledon today for the first time
Heather Watson in action during her third-round match against Kaja Juvan at Wimbledon today
Watson kissed the grass as she triumphed over Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan at her third-round match at Wimbledon today
Watson hugs Kaja Juvan after beating her in straight sets in her third-round Wimbledon clash today
Watson celebrates a point during her third-round match at Wimbledon’s Court One today
A wide shot of Watson reaching to hit a ball during her Court One clash with Juvan of Slovenia today
Watson in action during her third round match against Kaja Juvan on Court One today
She reached today’s third-round clash after beating China’s Wang Qiang in a match bisected by Love Island, four hours’ sleep and a double dose of caffeine gel.
The 30-year-old Channel Islander was leading Qiang 7-5, 3-0 late on Wednesday night and all was well with the world. But as darkness enveloped Court 18 she failed to serve out the match and play was called off for the night at 7-5, 5-4.
Asked yesterday whether she turned to her beloved Love Island to decompress, she replied: ‘I actually did to wind down. I slept awful last night because during my match I had to take caffeine to keep up for it when we’re playing at 9pm.’
After all that Watson came out – dosed up on caffeine again – and 14 points and eight minutes later had won 7-5, 6-4.
‘I feel as I’ve gotten older my highs aren’t as high but my lows aren’t as low,’ she said. ‘I’m more level-headed. Making my first third round, I was on top of the world. But I think it’s better being how I am now.’
The beaming Watson could not have cut a greater contrast to Harriet Dart as she lost 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 to No 8 seed Jessica Pegula.
All British players are ‘at home’ at the All England Club but Dart is part of the family – her mother is a member.
This was Dart’s 12th match on grass this year and Pegula’s second, so an upset was on the cards, certainly after the Brit took a 4-1 lead. But Pegula, daughter of the billionaire owner of the Buffalo Bills, found her groove.
Dart became frenetic as she rushed service games and took irate swipes at balls, her bag and the turf.
‘I was missing so many balls, playing pretty average,’ she said. ‘I was getting frustrated. It’s about finding solutions and today I didn’t.’
This is a breaking news story. More to follow