Watson dealt harsh lesson at hands of Azarenka


Originally published on: 16/06/10 14:21

Tough: it’s the only way to describe Heather Watson’s day. A tough match against a tough opponent, in more ways than one, and a tough way to end a tournament that until now has been about nothing but smiles for the Guernsey girl.

A day on from her first main-draw victory yesterday – her fourth win in Eastbourne after coming through the qualifying rounds over the weekend – Watson simply couldn’t match Victoria Azarenka’s firepower during the hour it took the world No.15 to post a 6-1 6-1 second round win.

That Azarenka is unseeded at the AEGON International says plenty about the calibre of opposition that Watson has found herself keeping company with this week. But while on Tuesday the 18-year-old belied her WTA ranking of No.344 in the world to beat world No.48 Aleksandra Wozniak, against Azarenka the gulf in class shone through. For pace, power and tenacity, the Belarussian simply had her number.

“There’s no easy opponents any more on the Tour, as you can see with so many top players losing tough matches,” said Azarenka, who admitted admitted that she had not seen Watson play before, though she did find herself warming up alongside the 18-year-old in morning practice. “She’s a tough player and we had some tough rallies – sometimes the score doesn’t say anything about the game.”

It was a polished answer, but in truth Watson was found out against a player who finished 2009 ranked No.7 in the world. Azarenka dismantled the Watson serve, restricted by the abdominal strain that emerged during the qualifiers, and while the Briton’s scrambling kept the ball alive at times, Azarenka lapped up the string of looping mid court drives that were all her opponent could muster in the face of the relentless barrage.

“She made hardly any errors – I can only remember like two or three,” conceded Watson. “She hits the ball hard, but she places it well as well.”

Defeat wasn’t going to wipe the smile from the infectiously happy Watson’s face – after all, she still has Friday to look forward to. Like her friend Laura Robson, she received a wildcard from the All England Club and is looking forward to making her senior Grand Slam bow at SW19.

And on the plus side, she was glad to have gained some experience against a top-20 player should the draw put her up against a seed. “I learned a lot,” she beamed, “and I’ll try not let it happen again.”


Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.