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Watson is relieved after paving the way for GB contingent



First up: Heather Watson during her opening victory at SW19

First up: Heather Watson during her opening victory at SW19

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First up: Heather Watson during her opening victory at SW19

Heather Watson was able to enjoy being Britain's leading lady at Wimbledon, but only after she was safely through to the second round.

Watson kicked off the home charge at this year's tournament by seeing off Caty McNally, a 17-year-old qualifier, in straight sets, winning 7-6 (3) 6-2 as she opened the action on Court 12 at 11am.

With Kyle Edmund the only other Brit in action on the first day, and not until much later on, all eyes were on Watson and she admitted to feeling the pressure.

She served three double faults in the very first game - including one serve which bounced before the net - and had to save two set points in the opener before taking it on a tie-break.

The second set was a much more routine affair, but even then the 27-year-old, playing at her 10th Wimbledon, said she did not enjoy the match until it was done and dusted.

"I didn't enjoy any of it, apart from after that last point was done," she conceded.

"But I was really, really pleased with that last game. I was shaky on my serve at the beginning.

"A week ago we were talking about how tough the first match on the first day is.

"When I saw the schedule, I was really excited about it. I've been practicing at 11am most days, so I was used to playing at that time. I was well prepared.

"Especially if you win and you get over that first hurdle, it's a great feeling being the first one done."

This was Watson's first Grand Slam main draw win since the French Open last year and her first at tour level since Quebec last September.

She remedied a terrible start to 2019 by dropping down a level, which brought success with a title in Japan.

"I'd had a terrible start to the year, barely won a match," she said. "I think it was really smart for me to go to Japan for three weeks and try and get some wins under my belt.

"But that level is just still so high, such good quality, that after the first week, I'd lost in the first round.

"I thought, 'Oh, God, what a bad decision'. But then I knew as soon as I won a match, it would just change in my head. I went on to win that tournament. That gave me real confidence coming into the grass-court season."

Watson suffered three first-round defeats in the build-up tournaments, but an alteration to her training brought about a change of result at SW19.

"I'm a confidence player, so not having those wins in the last few weeks, I was maybe over-thinking a bit," she said. "But I'd actually been practicing really, really well, winning all my practice sets.

"So losing in those first rounds was quite disappointing. When I came here, I was actually practicing terribly. I had a practice with (Andrea) Petkovic the other day. I lost 6-1 3-0.

"But I was actually excited about it because I'd been practicing well and losing. So I thought, 'I'm not practicing well now, and look, I've won!'"

Belfast Telegraph