Heather Watson reaping the benefits of hard work at last
Heather Watson says the paradise location of Hua Hin is helping her find her best tennis after she scored a notable win over world number 44 Yulia Putintseva in the first round of the Thailand Open.
Watson, who has plummeted down the rankings in recent months, fought back from a set down to sink her awkward Kazakh opponent 5-7 6-4 7-6 (5) in what was her first WTA Tour level win since Wimbledon.
The 30-year-old says the picturesque resort on the west of Thailand is proving a key component of her success.
First win since Wimbledon 🙌@heatherwatson92 pulls off a big win, defeating 2nd seed Putintseva in a 3rd set tiebreak!#ThailandOpen pic.twitter.com/8fCWSFgOqd
— wta (@WTA) January 31, 2023
“I feel like I’m in a really good place this week,” she said. “When I’m really happy with the environment I’m in I usually get good results.
“I remember playing the tournament in Acapulco, I had a similar feeling. It was such a beautiful resort and I ended up winning the tournament so, hopefully, it gives me good vibes this week as well.
“It’s has been so far, I’m just here with my mum, but we’ve been really experiencing Hua Hin, going to the night markets, eating the food.
“And we’ve also been working really hard on court as well doing a lot of extra practices. So I feel like my level was already there, so I felt confident for today.”
Great Britain’s @HeatherWatson92 upsets No.2 seed Yulia Putintseva in the first round of the 2023 #thailandopen presented by E@ in #huahin #thailand #tennis #wta pic.twitter.com/KANYH6oMdi
— WTA Thailand Open (@ThailandOpenHH) January 31, 2023
Watson says she has respect for all her opponents and feels every player can come out on top on their day.
“I have total respect for everyone. But I always find a positive in my mind. So if I’m playing a seed, I think, Okay, no pressure here, go out there and swing. If I’m not playing a seed, I’m like, Okay, let’s try to take advantage of this draw. Whatever way, I’ll try to spin it into a positive.
But I do see everybody in the draw as a challenge but also an opportunity equally. Everybody here can play great tennis. You never know who’s going to win on the day. It really depends.”
In a topsy-turvy encounter featuring 14 breaks of serve, Watson almost saw a 5-1 lead evaporate in the second set before rallying to force the decider.
She twice went a break up in the third set but finally managed to edge over the line after Putintseva hit back to force the decisive tie-break.
There was no such luck for Watson’s compatriot Heather Dart, who was beaten 6-3 6-4 by former US Open winner Bianca Andreescu.
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