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Heather Miriam Watson[2] (born 19 May 1992) is a British female tennis player and the British No 1. Born in Guernsey, she trained and lived at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida, United States.[3] On 16 July 2012 Watson became the top-ranked British senior woman player on the WTA rankings, overtaking Anne Keothavong.[4]

On 14 October 2012, Watson won her first WTA singles title with a win over Chang Kai-chen of Taiwan in the final of the Japan Open, becoming the first British female to win a WTA singles title since Sara Gomer in 1988.

In her junior career, Watson won the US Open and gold at the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games.[5] She had been as high as No. 3 in the world on the ITF Junior Circuit.[1]

ContentsEdit

 [hide*1 Early life and junior career

Early life and junior career[edit]Edit

Heather Watson was born 19 May 1992 in Guernsey to Papua New Guinean national Michelle and Manchester-born Englishman Ian Watson, who was the managing director of Guernsey Electricity from 1995 until his retirement in 2010.[6][7][8][9] She has one brother and two sisters. Heather Watson started playing tennis at the age of seven,[10] and at age twelve she went to the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida, United States.[2]

In 2006, Watson won the British Under-14 Championship.[11] The following year she won the British Under-16 Championship,[12] and reached the semi-finals of the British Under-18 Championship.[13] She lost in the Under-18 semi-finals again in 2008 to eventual winner Tara Moore.[14] In October, Watson travelled to Pune to compete at the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games. There she won the gold medal, winning the final against Kyra Shroff.[15][16] Mother Michelle left her job in 2008 to travel full-time with Heather Watson around the world junior circuit.[2]

Watson played her first senior tournament in March 2009 – the $25k Jersey Open, but lost in the second round to Katie O'Brien. At the beginning of July she became the highest-ranked British junior, overtaking Laura Robson.[17] She achieved her first senior women's world ranking on 27 July 2009, entering at number 756.[18] She won her first senior title at the Frinton $10,000 tournament. Watson beat Anna Fitzpatrick in the final.[19] At the 2009 US Open, Watson was seeded 11th for the girl's singles. She reached the quarter-finals on 10 September before rain interrupted the tournament schedule. The tournament moved indoors and Watson beat second seedNoppawan Lertcheewakarn in the quarter final on 12 September.[20] She played her semi-final on the same day and was victorious against Daria Gavrilova to reach the final, where she faced doubles partner Yana Buchina.[21] Playing on Court 7, Watson won in straight sets.[22]

At 2009 French Open Watson and her partner were the third seeds and reached the girl's doubles final where she and Tímea Babos, faced the second seeded pair ofNoppawan Lertcheewakarn and Elena Bogdan and were beaten in a match tie-break.[23] Partnering Yana Buchina, that year they were the 7th seed at the Australiangirl's doubles and 6th seed at the U.S. girl's doubles, however they lost in the first round at both tournaments. At Wimbledon she teamed up with Magda Linette and they were seeded 6th in the girl's doubles but eliminated in the second round.

Junior Slam Results[edit]Edit

Australian Open: QF (2009) French Open: 1R (2009) Wimbledon: 1R (20082009) US Open: W (2009)

Playing style[edit]Edit

Watson is right-handed and plays with a two-handed backhand. Her game is often likened to Martina Hingis and she has been praised by Nick Bollettieri for her "amazing footwork".[24] Moreover her great on-court intelligence, court sense and stellar timing have been other talking points about her game.[25] According to Nigel Sears, head of women's coaching at the Lawn Tennis Association, Watson possesses "a complete game",[26] with a massive amount of variety including the consistent use of a one-handed backhand slice, volleys and angles. Others, including Watson herself, have also identified her game as similar to ATP playerJo-Wilfried Tsonga due to her "big serve" and "tremendous athleticism".[27]

Upon Watson reaching the 2011 French Open second round, Andy Murray commented "When I saw her for the first time, I thought she was good. I like the way she moves on the court. She's very balanced".[28]Bollettieri stated that Watson's "game is based on great movement, but she's not afraid to whack the ball. She's not easy to beat. She has very good ground strokes, though she can over-hit and strike the ball a little too flat at times".[29]

Career[edit]Edit

2009[edit]Edit

Watson first began competing on the ITF circuit in March 2009 when she entered the qualifying tournament for the $10,000 event in Bath but failed to win a match. She entered her next tournament, a $25,000 event in Jersey, courtesy of a wild card and beat compatriot, Jade Curtis, in the first round. She was beaten by another fellow Brit, Katie O'Brien, in round two. In July she reached her first ITF semifinal as a qualifier in the $10,000 grass court tournament in Felixstowe before losing to Anna Smith. She went on to qualify for the next tournament she entered and again faced Smith in the semifinals however this time Watson was victorious and went on to beat Anna Fitzpatrick in the final to win her first ITF title. Continuing to compete on the ITF circuit for the rest of the season, Watson beat Melanie South in round one of a $50,000 ITF in Barnstaple in October before being defeated by Kristina Mladenovic of France in round two. Watson ended the 2009 season with a world singles ranking of No.588.[30]

2010[edit]Edit

Watson began 2010 with a wild card into the $25,000 ITF event in Sutton, where she made the quarterfinals. She immediately flew to the $100k Midland, Michigan ITF event, losing to qualifier and fellow 17-year-oldBeatrice Capra in the first round.[31] Two weeks later, she entered the $25k ITF event in Hammond, Louisiana. Watson qualified and went on reach her second quarterfinal of the year, defeating former world no.7 and two-time Grand Slam semifinalist, Nicole Vaidišová and 5th seed Monique Adamczak en route. The following week Watson entered another 25k ITF event in Clearwater, Florida. In the final qualifying round she lost to fellow Brit Georgie Stoop before being handed a lucky loser spot in the main draw and defeating Georgia's Anna Tatishvili in the first round. She lost to Zhou Yi-Miao in round two. Watson was then given a wild card into the main draw of the Sony Ericsson Open[32] but lost to Tsvetana Pironkova in the first round.[33] This was the first time in her career that Watson competed on the WTA tour. In April Watson reached the quarterfinals of a $25,000 ITF, this one in Jackson, Mississippi. Following this she qualified for the WTA event in Charleston.[34] before losing to Elena Vesnina in the first round.[35]

Watson's grass court season began at the Aegon Classic which she entered courtesy of a wild card, losing to Alla Kudryavtseva in the first round. At the Aegon International in Eastbourne, Watson qualified for the main draw by defeating Anna Smith, Tsvetana Pironkova and Bojana Jovanovski.[36] Watson defeated world No.48, Aleksandra Wozniak, in the first round.[37] In the second round though she was defeated by former top 10 player Victoria Azarenka. She then entered the first Grand Slam of her career after receiving a wild card into the main draw of Wimbledon. Watson met Italian Romina Oprandi in the first round and lost in three sets.[38][39] Moving back onto hard courts, Watson's next tournament was a $25,000 ITF tournament in Wrexham. She defeated four fellow British players (including Anna Fitzpatrick and Naomi Broady) on her way to the final, where she defeated former top 30 player Sania Mirza to win her second ITF title. After this, Watson continued to compete on the ITF circuit and in the qualifying rounds for WTA events. In September, at the $75,000 ITF tournament in Shrewsbury, she defeated world number 90 and former top 30 player Sabine Lisicki in straight sets before losing in the quarterfinals to Eva Birnerová. In October 2010 she was seeded fifth for the women's singles at the Commonwealth Games, taking the rare opportunity to represent Guernsey. She eventually lost to top seed, Anastasia Rodionova of Australia in the quarterfinals. Partnering Patrick Ogier, Watson also reached the quarterfinals of the mixed doubles where they were defeated by the third seeds, Sarah Borwell and Ken Skupski, representing England.

2011[edit]Edit

[1][2]Watson playing in the 2011 Fed Cup

Watson began 2011 by qualifying for the 2011 ASB Classic. She continued her winning streak in the main tournament and beat ninth seed Carla Suárez Navarro to get into the quarterfinals, where she lost to Shuai Peng of China. She also made the quarterfinals of the doubles tournament, partnering Kurumi Nara.

Watson then moved on to the 2011 Australian Open, where she beat Kristina Mladenovic in the first round of qualifying.

Watson then qualified for the 2011 Cellular South Cup, beating Andrea Hlaváčková and Stéphanie Foretz Gacon in the first and second rounds respectively to reach her second quarterfinal of the year. She lost to Evgeniya Rodina. She also reached the quarterfinals of the doubles tournament partnering Anna-Lena Grönefeld.

On 3 April 2011, Watson won two matches to qualify for the 2011 Family Circle Cup, where she lost a close three-set match to Christina McHale in the first round.[40]

Watson next attempted to qualify for the Estoril Open. In the first round of qualifying, she beat former world number 17 Karolina Šprem.[41] She went on to beat Poland'sKatarzyna Piter in the second round of qualifying,[42] but eventually lost to Austria's Tamira Paszek in the final qualifying round.[43]

Watson qualified for the 2011 French Open. She beat Ioana Raluca Olaru and Sally Peers in the first and second rounds respectively to reach the final round, where she defeated Stefanie Vögele to gain a place in the main draw for the first time. This was the first time a British woman had qualified for the French Open since Kate Brasher, the daughter of Shirley Bloomer and Chris Brasher, in 1983. She played French wildcard Stéphanie Foretz Gacon in the first round and won. By winning this match, Watson became the first British woman since Clare Wood in 1994, to reach the second round of the French Open. The victory saw her break into the top 100 for the first time. She lost to 16th seed Kaia Kanepi in the second round.[44]

Watson continued her good form entering the grass court season when she beat 15th seed Chanelle Scheepers in the first round of the 2011 Aegon Classic.[45] She followed this up by beating Misaki Doi in the second round. However, she lost to third seed and eventual semifinalist Peng Shuai in the third round.[46]

On 22 June 2011, Watson played Mathilde Johansson in her first round match in the Wimbledon Championships, winning the opening set before suffering an arm injury in the second set. Johansson then went on to win in three sets. On 25 June 2011, Heather and her mixed doubles partner Ross Hutchins beat Marcelo Melo and Rennae Stubbs in the mixed doubles.

On 29 August 2011, in the first round of the US Open, Watson lost 6–3, 5–7, 3–6 to former champion Maria Sharapova.[47] After the match, Sharapova stated "There's no doubt that she's a great up-and-coming player".[48]

2012[edit]Edit

At the start of 2012 Heather Watson suffered an ankle sprain. She recovered in time for the 2012 Australian Open but lost in the first round to the eventual champion Victoria Azarenka.

Watson was selected for the GB Federation Cup Team to play in the Europe/Africa Group 1 match at Eilat, Israel on 1–4 February 2012. In the group stages she played doubles with Laura Robson, defeating pairs from Portugal[49] and the Netherlands[50] and Israel in the group stages. Robson and Watson were not required to play their doubles in the play-off match against Austria as Anne Keothavong and Elena Baltacha won their singles rubbers, and the 2–0 lead qualified the team for a place in the World Group II promotion play-off in April 2012.[51]

Watson won three rounds in qualifying for the French Open at Roland Garros in May 2012. She defeated Elena Vesnina in the first round, matching her 2011 result in the tournament. In the second round she was defeated by the 25th seed Julia Görges of Germany.[52]

Watson, ranked 103, beat world No. 52 Iveta Benešová of the Czech Republic in her first singles win at Wimbledon in June 2012. She then beat Jamie Hampton of the USA, becoming the first British woman since 2002 to reach the third round of Wimbledon.[53] In the 3rd round Watson lost to the third seed and eventual runner-up Agnieszka Radwańska.

In the Stanford Classic, Heather Watson lost in the second round to world number 37 Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium 5–7, 6–1, 6–4, after a victory over the world number 49 Sloane Stephens from America, which she won 7–6 (7–5), 4–6, 6–1.[54] Watson won the doubles at the Stanford Classic, where she played with Marina Erakovic to beat Vania King and Jarmila Gajdošová by 7–5, 7–6 (9–7). This was her first title on the full WTA Tour.

At the Mercury Insurance Open in Carlsbad, she beat Eleni Daniilidou to set up a second round meeting with qualifier Chan Yung-jan. However she lost the match.[55]

She received an ITF wild card into the singles tournament at the 2012 Summer Olympics, where she defeated Silvia Soler Espinosa,[56] before losing her second-round match to Maria Kirilenko. She also played ladies' doubles in the Olympic Tournament with Laura Robson, losing in the first round to Angelique Kerber and Sabine Lisicki.[57]

Her next tournament was the Texas Open where in the singles she lost to Yanina Wickmayer in the first round. However, she went on to win the doubles competition alongside Erakovic for her second WTA doubles title of the year.

Heather Watson received automatic entry into the main draw of the US Open but was beaten in the first round by Li Na. In the doubles she and Erakovic had to retire in the first round.

After this she played in the 2012 Bell Challenge and lost in the first round to Mona Barthel. In the doubles tournament, playing with Alicja Rosolska, Watson reached the final, but they lost to Tatjana Malek and Kristina Mladenovic.

Heather Watson qualified for the 2012 Toray Pan Pacific Open and beat Sabine Lisicki in the first round, but then lost to Maria Sharapova.

Heather Watson made a WTA singles final for the first time in her career at the 2012 HP Open where she beat Polona Hercog, 6th seed Anabel Medina GarriguesPauline Parmentier and Misaki Doi. In the final, she saved four match points to beat Kai-Chen Chang of Chinese Taipei in a match lasting three hours and twelve minutes. With this win, Watson attained a top fifty ranking for the first time in her career, at the same time overtaking compatriot Laura Robson as the British number one. Watson also became the first Briton to win a WTA Singles Title since Sara Gomer in 1988. She also made the doubles final in the same event withKimiko Date-Krumm, but lost to Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears.[58]

2013[edit]Edit

[3][4]Watson at the 2013 Fed Cup

Watson began the year in the top 50 and therefore qualified for the 2013 Australian Open. She reached round 2 for the first time in her career thanks to a 2–6 6–3 6–2 victory against the Romanian Alexandra Cadanțu.[59] In the second round, Watson came-back from trailing Ksenia Pervak by a set and 6–3 in the tie break, to win 4–6 7–6 (9–7) 6–2. She faced world number 4 Agnieszka Radwańska in the 3rd round, where she was beaten 3–6 1–6. This run saw Watson rise to a career-high world ranking of 40.

Watson's next tournament after the Australian Open was the 2013 PTT Pattaya Open where she was the eighth seed. In the first round Watson comfortably defeated Tímea Babos 6–1 3–0 (Ret.) setting up a second round meeting with Latvia Anastasija Sevastova. Watson surprisingly lost to the Latvian 6–7 6–4 2–6 but picked herself up to help Great Britain reach a World Group II play-off tie in the Fed Cup which included impressive victories over Tímea Babos of Hungary and Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria in the all-important Euro/Africa Group I play-off.

Following the success with the Fed Cup team, Watson's next tournament was the US Indoor Championships in Memphis where she was seeded fourth. In the first round she overcame a tense battle with world number 109 Galina Voskoboeva winning 7–5 5–7 7–6. She then defeated Andrea Hlaváčková in another three-setter 2–6 6–0 6–3 before meeting Stefanie Vögele in the Quarter Finals, where she was defeated 6–1 6–2.

Watson was forced to miss Great Britain's Fed Cup play-off against Argentina after contracting glandular fever.

Watson's first game back from glandular fever was at the French Open. Despite playing well, Watson lost to Stefanie Vögele 4–6 6–2 4–6, saying after the match she knew it would be tough but that she was very disappointed.[60]

Following the French Open Watson moved her attention to the grass season, where she entered the Aegon Classic in Edgbaston. Seeded 14th, she defeated Melinda Czink in the first round 6–4 7–6, her first victory since returning from her illness. However, Watson's success was short-lived after she lost to qualifier Alla Kudryavtseva 4–6 3–6, the same score from the first time they met in the 2010 Aegon Classic. At the 2013 Aegon International Watson upset world number 27 Varvara Lepchenko in the first round 6–3 6–4. At Wimbledon she lost in the first round to Madison Keys.

Before Watson's US hard court season she decided to change coaches by hiring Jeremy Bates and won her first post-Wimbledon match against Wildcard Alexandra Mueller 6-7 6-4 6-3 at the 2013 Citi Open. Watson then lost in the next round to fourth seed Alize Cornet 6-4 6-4.

2014[edit]Edit

[5][6]Heather Watson at the 2014 Open GDF Suez de Cagnes-sur-Mer Alpes-Maritimes.

With her lowly ranking, Watson had to qualify for WTA Tour events, starting with the 2014 Brisbane International. Having won 3 qualifying matches, she was given a tough draw against 9th seed Dominika Cibulkova (who subsequently went on to reach the Australian Open Final) where she lost in straight sets. Following this event, Watson tried and failed in qualification for the Sydney International, losing in the second round of qualifying to American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

With lots of ranking points to defend from last year's tournament, it was vital that Watson qualified for the 2014 Australian Open. Watson was one of 5 Brits aiming to qualify and ended up being the sole survivor and joined Andy Murray and Laura Robson in the main draw. Like in Brisbane, Watson was given a tough draw as she faced 31st seedDaniela Hantuchova and eventually went down in 3 sets. Despite the defeat, Watson remained positive about her year ahead.

In the Fed Cup Watson continued her impressive run winning all four of her singles rubbers in the Europe/Africa Zone. Despite her victories, which included two top 40 scalps defeating Yvonne Meusburger of Austria and Romanian world number 26 Sorana Cirstea, Britain failed to qualify for the World Group II Playoff.

Watson then proceeded to compete at the 2014 Dow Corning Tennis Classic, a $100,000 in Midland, Michigan. She posted straight set wins over Anna TatishviliSofia Arvidsson and Olga Govortsova to advance to the final, where she defeated Ksenia Pervak to win her fourth ITF title. Partnering Tatishvili, she also reached the doubles final and won after a tough tiebreak.

Watson re-entered the WTA top 100 after a stunning victory at the 2014 Sparta Prague Open in May. Watson defeated 3 top 100 players - Klára KoukalováKarolína PlíškováTimea Babos en route to the final of the ITF $100,000+H title. Due to poor weather, Watson was forced to play her semi-final with Babos on the Finals day. She claimed a 7–6 6–3 victory before defeating 6th seed Anna Karolína Schmiedlová (who had played most of her semi-final the day before) 7–6 6–0 in the Final.

Her impressive form carried over to the French Open where she came through three rounds of qualifying to reach the main draw. In the first round, Watson defeated Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová in straight sets 6–3 6–4 before falling to world number 4 Simona Halep in the second round, 2–6, 4–6.

Playing equipment[edit]Edit

Watson currently uses Dunlop rackets.[61]

Career statistics[edit]Edit

Main article: Heather Watson career statistics==Singles performance timeline[edit]==

Tournament 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 SR W–L Win %
Grand Slam Tournaments
Australian Open A LQ 1R 3R 1R 0 / 3 2–3 40%
French Open A 2R 2R 1R 2R 0 / 4 3–4 43%
Wimbledon 1R 1R 3R 1R 0 / 4 2–4 33%
US Open LQ 1R 1R 1R 0 / 3 0–3 0%
Win–Loss 0–1 1–3 3–4 2–4 1–2 0 / 14 7–14 33.3%
Olympic Games
Summer Olympics Not Held 2R NH 0 / 1 1–1 50%
WTA Premier Mandatory Tournaments
Indian Wells A LQ LQ 1R 2R 0 / 2 1–2 33%
Miami 1R 1R 3R 1R 0 / 4 2–4 33%
Madrid A A A A 0 / 0 0–0 0%
Beijing A A Q2 1R 0 / 1 0–1 0%
WTA Premier 5 Tournaments
Dubai A A A A 0 / 0 0–0 0%
Rome A A A A 0 / 0 0–0 0%
Cincinnati A A A LQ 0 / 0 0–0 0%
Canada A LQ A LQ 0 / 0 0–0 0%
Tokyo A A 2R LQ 0 / 1 1–1 50%
Career statistics
Tournaments played 5 11 18 22 43
Titles–Finals 0–0 0–0 1–1 0–0 1–1
Overall Win–Loss 1–5 12–13 18–17 16-22 47-57
Year End Ranking 176 92 49 119 $825,241

Doubles performance timeline[edit]Edit

Current through 2014 Australian Open.

Tournament 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 SR W–L Win %
Grand Slam Tournaments
Australian Open A A A 1R A 0 / 1 0–1 0%
French Open A A A 1R 0 / 0 0–1 0%
Wimbledon 2R 1R 2R 1R 0 / 4 2–4 50%
US Open A A 1R 1R 0 / 2 0–2 0%
Win–Loss 1–1 0–1 1–2 0–4 0–0 0 / 7 2–8 25%
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