Heather Watson believes she is in the best shape possible for a record run at Wimbledon after holding her nerve to beat Caroline Garcia – saving three match points in a tense encounter.
The British number one will now tackle former quarter-finalist Daniela Hantuchova in the second round after toppling the world number 32 in her delayed All England Club opener.
She made the second round last year, her best performance yet, before going out to ninth seed Angelique Kerber and if she beats Slovakian Hantuchova, favourite Serena Williams will probably lie in wait.
“Daniela is an experienced player, she plays very well on grass,” said Watson.
“It definitely won’t be easy but I really look forward to playing her again, as I played her last year in the Australian Open.
“I feel like I’ve had great results this year but I just haven’t been consistent enough at all and that’s why my ranking shows how it does.
“But tennis‑wise, I feel I’m there. I feel great. Even when I’m not playing my best, I feel I can get through tough matches against really tough players. That’s just a real positive for me for when I’m playing my best.”
Good things come to those who wait and bad light gave Watson the night to sleep on perfecting her tactics after a stuttering first set – in which she won just one game – against her big-hitting French rival.
She recovered to win the second 6-3, although she missed her chance to serve for the match at 6-5 in a gripping third set once play restarted. But she eventually managed to make the breakthrough to close the encounter out 1-6, 6-3, 8-6, leaving her rueful rival to reflect on her own missed chances.
“I just made sure that, after the delay, when I went on the court I was already sweating, I was ready to go, fired up,” added Watson, the only British woman to make the second round after defeats for Laura Robson, Johanna Konta and Naomi Broady.
“I think that was very important just to start the match well, not like I did the day before.”
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