Mats Wilander backs Brit to make last eight at SW19

Heather Watson plays a shot

Former World No 1 Mats Wilander believes that Heather Watson should be the favourite for her Round of 16 match against Germany’s Jule Niemeier.

Watson reached the last 16 for the first time with a 7-6(6) 6-2 win over Slovenian Kaja Juvan.

Wilander admits he is surprised that Watson hasn’t reached this stage of the competition until now.

“It’s surprising that she hasn’t been there [the fourth round] before and expected because she’s a good player,” Wilander said on Eurosport.

“She can play on all the different surfaces. She probably prefers to play here at home and she can go further as well.

“It’s great to see she has put in so much hard work over the years and has always been talked about as a potentially great player. It’s not too late for her to do something big in tennis.”

Wilander fears that Watson’s weakness at Wimbledon is losing matches that she really should be winning which could give British tennis fans pause for thought.

“When you dig into why she hasn’t got into the fourth round in majors is it that she has struggled against the players that she is supposed to beat.

“You would say against Niemeier she is probably the favourite because she’s on grass and has the crowd with her. But it also puts a lot of pressure on her from herself more than anybody.

“She will think that it is a chance of a lifetime so I do think she will win that match. It’s obviously a tricky tie when you play somebody that you should beat.”

Watson’s last 16 match is on Sunday but she will be out on the court in the doubles where she has partnered with Harriet Dart.

The all-British pairing will be taking on the 13th seeded duo of Aleksandra Krunić and Natela Dzalamidze on a court yet to be determined.

Watson had reached the third round at Wimbledon on three previous occasions but hadn’t made it to the first weekend until this year.

Britain’s other remaining hope in the women’s singles, Katie Boulter, takes on Harmony Tan on Saturday for a place in the last 16.