Wimbledon 2022: Heather Watson reaches fourth round milestone

Heather Watson’s road to the fourth round of a Grand Slam has been long and winding, but the journey is finally complete.

Wimbledon marks Watson’s 43rd Slam main draw and despite four previous third-round matches – three of them at SW19 – she had never made that step into the second week.

There have been near misses – famously against Serena Williams in 2015 – and it is not for a lack of trying, having not missed the main draw or qualifying for a Slam since her Wimbledon debut in 2010.

After that match against Williams seven years ago, she set a firm goal of reaching the second week at the All England Club and on Friday she grabbed her opportunity with both hands.

A 7-6 (6) 6-2 win over Kaja Juvan on Court 1 sealed her place in the second week and post-match she sank onto the Court 1 turf, head in hands and deep in thought.

“I was thinking that I’d made it to the fourth round of Wimbledon for the first time, because that has been a goal of mine for ten years,” said Watson, who faces Wimbledon debutant Jule Niemeier for a quarter-final spot.

“The closest I was to that was my match against Serena in 2015, I was two points away there. That was the first time I think I’d set that goal for myself then – to reach the second week of a Grand Slam.

“I’ve been in the third round quite a few times here at Wimbledon and the Australian Open. So I was just sort of waiting for it to happen – I waited long enough, I think!

“Going into Wimbledon without those matches under my belt, I didn’t expect it. 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.”

This was never going to be an easy match for the Brit, against an opponent she lost to at the US Open last year. 

Juvan can balance power and guile in a manner reminiscent of her best friend, world No.1 Iga Swiatek – though not on such a consistent basis.

When Watson spurned three set points at 6-3 up in the first set tie-break there was a looming sense of an opportunity missed, but a double fault from Juvan on a fourth set point handed her the opener.

Watson has enthralled her home crowd in many an epic over the years but it quickly became apparent she would not do so on this occasion, storming to a 5-0 lead as the Slovenian’s game cracked.

Unsurprisingly, it was not a straightforward finish. She failed to serve it out at the first time of asking and faced four break points the second time, but one match point was all she needed for the most significant win of her career.

Watson added: “Once I grabbed that first set I feel like I maintained my level and she dropped hers, started to give me a few free points. I also stayed steady up until 5-0 and I thought she raised her level.

“I didn’t really panic because I was thinking clearly and well aware that she had raised her level – I was surprisingly calm actually. 

“I really believed that I was going to do it, even if it was a bit of a fight at the end.”

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