Watson makes confident start to 2016
Originally published on 08/01/16 00:00
The lowest ranked woman in Group B, the world No.55 defeated Lisicki, ranked 13 places above her, 6-3 6-4 to claim her second win from three singles matches in Perth this week.
The pair have not met on the WTA Tour since 2012 (Watson leads the head-to-head 2-1), but they know one another well as they sometimes train together in Florida and the Brit managed to contain Lisicki’s big serve during the day session the Perth Arena.
All three of Watson’s opponents at this year's Hopman Cup have had higher rankings, but Watson emerged with two singles wins after coming from 5-3 down in the deciding set to beat world No.36 Daria Gavrilova in Team GB’s tie against Australia on Wednesday. Her opening match against France’s world No.34 Caroline Garcia lasted two hours and 17 minutes and Watson saved two match points in the second set, eventually losing 6-3 5-7 6-3.
“To be honest I don't really look at the rankings, I have played lots of the girls before and beaten them, lost to them, I don't feel like my ranking, well it is reflective of my abilities, otherwise I would be higher,” Watson said, smiling, “but I just feel better than my ranking right now, especially how I feel on court and how I am playing”.
Watson spent the off-season training in Florida but opted for a shorter training season but with higher intensity. “Usually I do about six weeks, but this year I finished about a week later in the year. Luxembourg was my last tournament and also I played the CTL league in India so I actually started my training there,” she said.
“When I came back to Florida I just had three weeks left, but I think it works out better for me doing more shorter and intense rather than more weeks and just drag it out."
Watson also started her 2015 season at the Hopman Cup, where she beat Australia's Casey Dellacqua but suffered defeats to Agnieszka Radwanska and Alize Cornet. “I always love the beginning of the year here in Australia and I always feel that I play well,” she said.
Working with Fed Cup captain Judy Murray, Watson says she is also gaining confidence by playing competitive tennis, albeit in a relaxed tournament in Western Australia.
“In training I usually try to play as many sets as possible in the week coming up, but it’s just not the same," she said. "I played lots of sets coming into this but you have to get used to that pressure and I think today, for example, serving it out from 0-40 down, I held my nerve and that is what will really help in the matches coming up.”
The Australian vibe seems to really suit the 23-year -old. Watson, who alongside team-mate Andy Murray has enjoyed plenty of crowd support here in Perth, went to see the musical The Lion King on Thursday night.
“It was absolutely awesome. I definitely recommend it to everybody. I’ll be singing the Lion King songs for the next month or so,” she joked in her on court post match interview and the crowd lapped it up.
Germany v Great Britain
Andy Murray d. Alex Zverev 6-3 6-4
Heather Watson d. Sabine Lisicki 6-3 6-4
Watson/Murray d. Lisicki/Zverev 6-3 6-4