Wimbledon: Watson’s pre-match sprints ensure she gets up to speed

FAST MOVER: British No 1 Heather Watson beams with delight after beating No 32 seed Caroline Garcia, of France 1-6 6-3 8-6. Watson will face Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova in the next round with the possibility of playing Serena Williams if she gets through.  Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA
FAST MOVER: British No 1 Heather Watson beams with delight after beating No 32 seed Caroline Garcia, of France 1-6 6-3 8-6. Watson will face Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova in the next round with the possibility of playing Serena Williams if she gets through. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA
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A “pumped up” Heather Watson will target “controlled aggression” to equal her best-ever Wimbledon showing and set up a potential third-round meeting with Serena Williams.

British No 1 Watson saved three match points to defeat No 32 seed Caroline Garcia, of France, in a truncated first-round tie that had been suspended for bad light on Monday night.

The 23-year-old prevailed 1-6 6-3 8-6 to set up a second-round clash with Daniela Hantuchova, then revealed she psyched herself up for yesterday’s resumption of play with an intensive workout session.

“I always listen to music before I go on, upbeat, fast, dancy stuff but I did a lot more than usual before we went back out,” said Watson.

“I warmed up for a good half-hour non-stop, quick stuff, lots of sprints just to make sure I was ready.

“I was so flat on Monday, I needed to be pumped up and fired up because I’d started the match so flat before.

“[Yesterday] it was one set and that was it so I had to make sure I had a good start, so that’s why I came onto the court already sweating, very motivated.”

Desperately clutching for form in a dismal first set on Monday, Watson vented frustrations by vigorously slapping her thigh in an attempt to galvanise herself into the contest.

The Guernsey native admitted she does not even notice the lengths to which she will stretch when chasing full focus on court.

“Hopefully it’s controlled aggression,” said Watson. “It doesn’t feel so good after the match.

“I don’t even feel it when I do it. There’s always a bit of a red mark after. It’s the heat of the moment. I don’t even know what I’m doing until after it’s done, I don’t even realise I’ve done it.”

Watson’s exploits followed the day after Liam Broady pulled back from the brink at two sets down to see off Marinko Matosevic in a five-set thriller.

World No 64 Watson might have put her reversal of fortunes down to mental edge, but was still left relieved to have fought through.

“I’m not sure why I started the match so flat on Monday, I felt good before the match,” said Watson. “But these things happen.

“At the beginning of the match I was finding it quite hard to see with the light, as well.

“I’m just glad I was able to get in, in that second set, otherwise it could have been over before it even started.”

Not content with grinding her way back into the contest on Monday, Watson then faced down three match points for Garcia in yesterday’s finale.

The former world No 27 revealed when it came to the absolute final crunch she was able to jettison all nerves and concerns.

“I only thought for a second that it maybe wasn’t meant to be this time,” said Watson of fending off those three match points.

“But I said to myself ‘no matter what, if she wants this match, she’s going to have to win it, I’m not going to give it to her’.

“I just stuck in there; before I knew it, it was now my turn to close the match.

“I’m just pleased that I was able to correct my mistakes the second time, serving out the match.

“I made sure I made a few more first serves; I think that made the difference.”

Laura Robson has challenged herself to be grand slam ready in two months after battling through her “no-brainer” roll of the dice Wimbledon defeat to Evgeniya Rodina.

Robson’s 17-month wrist injury nightmare haunted the former British No 1, who slipped out at SW19 in a straight-sets 6-4 6-4 defeat that marked just the second match of her comeback.

The 21-year-old remains unranked and accepted a Wimbledon wild card, admitting she could not face missing out in south-west London for a second year running.

Robson confirmed she will take up her protected ranking of No 58 – that lasts eight tournaments – to enter the US Open at the end of August.

“Compared to the match I played last week, it was infinitely better,” said Robson of her Wimbledon defeat when sat alongside her 6-0 6-1 loss to Daria Gavrilova in Eastbourne qualifying.

“I’m pretty confident that I have the ability to get back to where I was before (in the rankings) if not higher.

“It’s going to be a long process to get there but I’m very excited that I have another chance to do it.”

Great Britain has four men in the second round at Wimbledon for the first time since 2006 after Aljaz Bedene and James Ward swept to victory late yesterday.

Bedene scrapped past veteran Czech battler Radek Stepanek in five sets while Ward claimed a four-set victory over Italy’s lucky loser Luca Vanni, the duo joining Liam Broady and Andy Murray in round two at SW19.

The last time Britain had such a strong second-round men’s collective in south west London, Tim Henman and Andy Murray were flanked by Jamie Delgado, Martin Lee and Richard Bloomfield.

Slovenia-born Bedene tasted his first Wimbledon victory after taking full British citizenship earlier this year, seeing off Stepanek 7-5 1-6 4-6 6-3 6-4.

And just minutes after the 25-year-old had booked a second-round clash with Viktor Troicki, Ward completed his 6-7 (4/7) 6-2 6-4 6-3 victory over a visibly-flagging Vanni.

Stepanek might be in the latter throes of an illustrious career, but Bedene was always going to be in for a fight against an opponent once ranked number eight in the world.

Though his passport only came through in March, Bedene will hope victory at Britain’s showpiece event can help convince the general public of his loyalties.

Tennis’ governing bodies have blocked Bedene’s attempt to represent Britain in Davis Cup action, so he will miss out on the forthcoming quarter-final with France.

A fine run at Wimbledon would ease those frustrations however, and seeing off Stepanek is a strong start.