Heather Watson loses to Angelique Kerber at Wimbledon

By Piers NewberyBBC Sport at Wimbledon
Heather Watson and Angelique Kerber
Watson's defeat means Andy Murray is the only Briton left in the singles

Heather Watson's Wimbledon campaign ended in the second round with a three-set defeat by German ninth seed Angelique Kerber on Centre Court.

The British number one fought back well after a poor first set, but Kerber took the decider to win 6-2 5-7 6-1.

Watson, 22, had been hoping to beat a top-10 player for the first time, and match her best effort at a Grand Slam by reaching the third round.

Kerber goes on to face Belgian 24th seed Kirsten Flipkens in the last 32.

The result means defending champion in the singles events.

"When I walked off the court I was very upset," said Watson. "I started very poorly. A lot of unforced errors, didn't serve very well. The set kind of went just very quickly."

Watson made a nervous start on a half-full Centre Court, as spectators headed for refreshment following Rafael Nadal's win over Lukas Rosol in the previous match.

The atmosphere was flat in the early stages and the Briton struggled to get going, making only 50% of her first serves and leaking errors from the baseline as Kerber took the first set in 29 minutes.

Watson has employed a more attacking game plan as she has battled up the rankings to number 60, after slipping out of the top 100 following illness and injury in 2013.

It served her well last week when she claimed a first top-20 win against Flavia Pennetta in Eastbourne, but she could not rediscover that form consistently enough to get past Kerber.

If her game was patchy, the Briton's grit and determination was as reliable as ever, and she hauled her way back into a contest that looked to be slipping away in straight sets.

Marion Bartoli on Watson
"There were so many positives for Heather. She wasn't in it mentally at the start but then she got engaged and you could see the response from the crowd. She can leave the court with her head held high. She has a big heart, she is such a fighter."

Watson brought the home crowd alive as she twice recovered breaks in the second set, saving four break points at 4-4, and bringing herself right back into the match when she converted a third set point in game 12.

The errors crept back into her game at the start of the third, however, and she netted a volley to lose serve in the opening game before a pumped-up Kerber went a double-break clear at 3-0.

There was one more flash of resistance from Watson with a backhand cross-court winner to recover one of the breaks, but Kerber took the final three games as the Briton's challenge finally flickered out.

Nick Bollettieri on Watson
"This will not just go down as a pure defeat for Heather. She won respect in the way she came back in the second set. It was so important for her to win that. It showed positive signs. She gave the third away to some extent but if she had lost in straight sets it would have hurt her."

"I am very pleased with where I am now - it was a very tough year for me last year," added Watson.

"The way the year's gone so far, if somebody would've told me that from the beginning of the year, after the year I had last year, I would've taken it."

Kerber, a semi-finalist in 2012, told BBC Sport: "It was a really tough match. Heather is a great, talented player and I am really happy I won.

"I was trying to be aggressive and focus on the moment. Heather has a very good future and I wish her all the best, she is a great player and a great personality."

Heather Watson and Angelique Kerber
Watson and Kerber began in a half-empty Centre Court after a lengthy match beforehand
Heather Watson
Watson was trying to match her best Wimbledon run from 2012, when she reached the third round
Angelique Kerber
Kerber is a two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist and took charge in the final set
Heather Watson and Angelique Kerber
Watson fought hard but missed out on a first top-10 win of her career