‘Taking it match by match’ – Watson philosophical in Indian Wells

 

By Ros Satar, in Indian Wells

  • Heather Watson exited the second round of singles and first round of doubles at Indian Wells
  • Now out of the Top 100, is defending fourth round points at Miami next week
INDIAN WELLS, USA – Heather Watson joined Britwatch at the end of a long day with two losses, to talk about ranking, coaches and Fed Cup.

 

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It was the end of a long day for former British No. 1 Heather Watson as she came in off a day of two losses – first to current British No. 1 and Fed Cup team-mate Johanna Konta, before losing to a formidable Czech pairing of Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova.

There is no denying that Konta on form is fast proving to be a tough mountain to climb, but Watson had started very aggressively, breaking her fellow countrywoman from the off, but the Konta patience and determination took its toll on Watson.

She said: I thought I started very well in the match. It was very up and down and then had a real, real lapse of focus and everything, and second set but then managed to just try and fight back. Then that last game I was just frustrated with because I felt I was right back in it.

“I was just too up and down, Too many errors today. I’m feeling good striking the ball, but I just need to get that match fitness back in focus for every point, point in, point out.”

Heather Watson at the 2017 BNP Paribas Open © Jimmie48 Photography

We are used to seeing Watson come back from the point of adversity many times in often real roller-coasters of matches, and her first round encounter with Nicole Gibbs had been no exception. She fought from a set down to book her spot in the all-British affair, and came into the tournament off the back of a very solid set of performances in the Fed Cup group stages where Great Britain earned their chance to qualify for the second level of the World Group.

She said: I’m really happy with myself and how I played in Fed Cup and stuff and I don’t want to take anything away from it, but they’re very different conditions. I was playing players a lot lower ranked apart from my last couple and you know they’re just different circumstances playing in that team event.

“But do you know what? I’ll take any match at the moment.”

It has been a frustrating time for the three-time WTA title winner, whose rise up the rankings shuddered to a halt in 2013. Having cracked the Top 50, Watson was forced off the tour after contracting glandular fever, and her path back has been bumpy at times, but eventually rewarded at the start of 2015 with her second WTA title in Hobart. She picked up the title without having dropped a set, and things were looking rosy again.

Heather Watson at the 2017 BNP Paribas Open © Jimmie48 Photography

But Watson is not one for looking back, and with fourth round points to defend in Miami, how easy is it to distance herself from fretting about the rankings and results?

“Really not as easy as saying it,” she said, laughing. “You can just try your best, It’s all mental – if your head’s in the right space. My head right now is just working as hard as I can on and off the court. Practice, in my routines, everything I do, just to be as professional as possible as I can and it’s also just taking literally match by match.

I’m not thinking about points or rankings or anything right now, because I’ve dropped outside the Top 100 now so I don’t really care. I don’t want to look at it. I’m just trying to enjoy my tennis, and play well.”

She was working with Pat Harrison over Indian Wells for on-court coaching advice after her set-up with John-Laffnie de Jager was very short lived, and the truth is she has struggled to gel following the great relationship she had with Argentine coach Diego Veronelli.

Almost likening the whole process of finding that perfect coaching chemistry to dating, she said: It’s so bloody tough it literally is [like dating]. You spend so much time with the person. I love Diego, I still talk to him all the time, He’s living the family the family life now in Argentina, and you know I don’t want to but I do compare people to him, because I just loved so many things that he did.

“And it’s tough finding a coach. First of all I think the hardest thing is finding somebody that truly believes in you and wants you to win. You know who’s not just doing it as a job. That cuts down a lot of people to start with.”

That in itself is surprising – tennis is perhaps one of the most demanding sports in terms of travel time, practice and routine, and surely people could not do this job if they did not have a real passion for it?

She explained: “You know if somebody really cares about you. I think I’m good at reading people and that’s what I want. I also obviously want to learnt things on the court, improve not just as a player but as a person and it’s tough to find.”

We are at the start of perhaps the most brutal time in the tennis swing as the European season looms after the US hard-court spring, with Fed Cup to add to the mix in an already busy lead up to the two European Slams.

So having established that we are not dwelling on the points up for grabs in Miami, we turned our attention back to Fed Cup – having played on the same side with current Captain Anne Keothavong, had it been more of an adjustment to having her as the Captain.

She told us: “Fed Cup is a different atmosphere , different vibe – you see all kinds of results in Fed Cup, so I think it’s exciting for us to play Romania. I’m glad we weren’t playing Australia away or anything. That would be tough, mid-season (laughing).

“I find it quite different actually. You know they both worked well, but I did feel differences in the dynamic of preparations and stuff. I like to think both [Judy Murray and Keothavong] are my friends but when it comes to work I view them as Captain.”

Watson will make the cut of the Miami draw but it may be a while before we see her pair up once more with fellow Brit Naomi Broady until their rankings improve. But for now, let’s just stick with just taking things one match at a time.

Featured Image (c) Jimmy48 Tennis Photography

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