Heather Watson banishes the ghost of her epic third round loss to Serena Williams
Heather Watson finally buried the ghost of her agonising defeat by Serena Williams seven years ago by reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon.
Watson made the second week of a grand slam for the first time after a drama-filled win over Kaja Juvan.
Playing at her 12th Wimbledon and in her 43rd major tournament, the British number four thrilled Court One with a landmark 7-6 (6) 6-2 victory.
The closest Watson had previously come to the fourth round was here in 2015, when she served for the match against Williams but lost 7-5 in the third.
Upon hitting the winning volley, Watson raised her arms in the air before kneeling on the turf with her head in her hands.
“I was thinking that I’ve made it to the fourth round of Wimbledon for the first time, because that has been a goal of mine for, like, 10 years,” she revealed.
“The closest I was to that was my match against Serena, I was two points away there.
“That was the first time I think I’d set that goal for myself then. That year was to reach second week of a grand slam.”
Slovenian Juvan, at 69 ranked 40 places above Watson, was a dangerous opponent who had beaten the highly-fancied Beatriz Haddad Maia in round one.
But the 21-year-old folded after Watson edged a nerve-ridden first-set tie-break, while the confident Briton won 11 consecutive points as she raced into a 5-0 lead in the second.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 1, 2022
There was a Watson-esque wobble at the death – “It wouldn’t be me if there wasn’t a bit of drama at the end” – but she got over the line with her first match point after five tense deuces.
She may now be 30 and outside the world’s top 100, but from out of nowhere Watson is suddenly enjoying the summer of her career 12 years after her Wimbledon debut.
Her run is all the more remarkable given she suffered a hamstring scare in the build-up to this year’s Championships.
“I was thinking that after the match,” she added. “With my preparation in the grass-court season, I had my hamstring, I didn’t have much prep going into Eastbourne, but I wanted to play anyway.
“I’m a real confidence player so going into Wimbledon without those matches under my belt, you know, I didn’t expect it.
“But then again, I didn’t look too far ahead. I only just took it one match at a time. Once you get through that, it gives you a bit of confidence, then it just keeps growing from there on.”
Watson can at least treat herself to a day off – doubles notwithstanding – after achieving the rare feat of playing singles on each of the first five days this week, as her previous two matches carried over from the day before.
She will face Germany’s Jule Niemeier, the world number 97, for a place in the quarter-finals.
Madison Keys stuns Iga Swiatek for first win over reigning World No 1
Madison Keys swept to a straight sets victory against Swiatek, who looked far from her best.
Daniil Medvedev to face home hope Taylor Fritz in Cincy last eight
Daniil Medvedev is set for a first competitive meeting with Taylor Fritz.
Petra Kvitova comes through see-saw battle with Ons Jabeur
Petra Kvitova dropped some bombs on Ons Jabeur.
What Nick Kyrgios needs to do to compete on the ATP Tour
Greg Rusedski believes Nick Kyrgios would be better off focusing on things that he can control, like his own fitness.
US Open 2022: Injury cloud hangs over women’s draw
Injury concerns have afflicted the big names of the WTA Tour.
Nick Kyrgios ‘unravelled’ against Taylor Fritz as pundit says he needs ‘to get stronger’
Injury cloud hanging over Nick Kyrgios ahead of US Open.
Andy Murray could drop a surprise retirement announcement at any time
Andy Murray feels he will know when he has played his last match.
Emma Raducanu vs Jessica Pegula TV and streaming info: US Open champion looking to end hoodoo
Can Emma Raducanu win three matches in a row for the first time since the US Open?
Iga Swiatek calls for new balls as she slams ‘horrible’ US Open balls that ‘fly like crazy’
Iga Swiatek feels officials have made a balls-up.