Britain’s Heather Watson could only win two games as her Wimbledon dream ended with a nightmare hammering at the hands of third seed Agnieszka Radwanska.
Watson won the hearts of the home nation with a pair of thrilling performances in the first two rounds, but she wilted under pressure yesterday, losing 0-6 2-6 in front of a subdued crowd on Centre Court.
Spectators had gathered in the hope there would be the rare sight of a British woman progressing to the fourth round, but instead they witnessed a mauling as Radwanska tore apart the Guernsey player’s game.
The defeat for Watson means Andy Murray is now the only Briton left standing in the singles at SW19.
The opening game was ultimately nothing to go by, but briefly Watson looked as if she was going to be able to match her opponent, who is ranked 100 places higher than her.
Afterwards Watson sped off court, clearly unhappy with her performance.
“I held it until I got off the court, and then I just let it all out,” she said.
Radwanska broke Watson three times during a subdued first set in which the home favourite struggled with her serve.
The home crowd willed Watson on, but she could not capitalise on the two break points she earned, and Radwanska continued to return brilliantly.
“She is third in the world for a reason. She didn’t miss anything today,” Watson said.
“I didn’t get the best start apart from the first game, and before I knew it the first set was already gone.
“I couldn’t really tell where she was serving, and she was hitting the lines on almost every serve.”
Despite the comprehensive defeat, Watson was justifiably proud of her achievements throughout the first week.
She had not won a match in the main draw at Wimbledon before this week and her dismantling of Benesova, a player ranked 48 places above her, was highly impressive, as was her clinical win over America’s Hampton.
That victory had made her the first British woman to reach the third round in 10 years, and yesterday’s defeat to a two-time quarter-finalist was always the likely outcome for the world No 103.
“This has been a great learning experience for me. I will come back stronger,” added Watson.
“It’s been my best Wimbledon so far. I want to keep coming back here.
“That first match on Centre Court (against Benesova) was huge for me. That will be my best memory.
“I really felt the crowd this year more than in previous years because I’ve come through. I just love the feeling.
“I want it more. I can’t wait until next year.”
Watson can console herself with the expectation she will break back into the world top 100 after this week’s exploits, and she will be back at the All England Club next month for the Olympics, where she will play doubles with Laura Robson.
A pay cheque of £38,875 will also widen the smile of the bubbly player, who caused laughter earlier this week when she revealed she had adopted a superstition of eating smoked salmon and eggs for breakfast.
“I haven’t thought about the prize money yet,” Watson said.
“I was just focused on the matches. I think I deserve a little present for myself.
“I think I’m going to take my team out for a nice dinner, first of all.
Not salmon, though. I’ve had enough salmon this week. I’m done with the salmon.”
The game started promsingly for Watson when she took Radwanska to deuce before attempting an audacious lob that went just too long and the Pole moved 1-0 ahead. The set then began to unravel for the 20-year-old in embarrassing fashion.
Watson offered Radwanska two break points in her opening service game and the world No 3 took the first to move 2-0 up when the home favourite tamely netted a forehand. After Radwanska held her serve, she broke Watson whose forehand failed again.
The home crowd sighed with disappointment as another routine Radwanska hold was followed by another break. The first set had whizzed by in just 24 minutes.
Watson was willed on as she came out for the second set, but the support could not help the shell-shocked youngster who looked resigned to defeat.
Two-time quarter-finalist Radwanska pinned Watson to the baseline at 30-40 and the Briton’s return – a wayward backhand – flew long and the Pole had a 2-0 lead. Radwanska offered Watson a route back when she netted to give the youngster a break point but then came a serve that did not come back. Watson, determined to avoid a whitewash, upped her game in the fourth game of the second set, sending her opponent to all four corners of the court before powering down a 107mph ace to hold.
The Channel Islander’s relief was clear as she let out a huge roar of “Come on!”, but normal service resumed in the following game as Radwanska held to love.
Another hold from Watson – this time to love – gave her more confidence but Radwanska had already done the damage. The 23-year-old held easily before Watson gave away match point with a weak backhand. Radwanska did not take that opportunity, but she did not fail at the second time of asking, Watson hitting a backhand wide to lose in just 58 minutes.