Wimbledon: Heather Watson reaches fourth round for first time

By Harry PooleBBC Sport at Wimbledon
Wimbledon 2022 on the BBC
Venue: All England Club Dates: 27 June-10 July
Coverage: Live across BBC TV, radio and online with extensive coverage on BBC iPlayer, Red Button, Connected TVs and mobile app.

Heather Watson reached the last 16 of a Grand Slam in singles for the first time as she overcame Kaja Juvan to reach the Wimbledon fourth round.

The British world number 121 raised her arms aloft in celebration as she withstood a late Juvan resurgence to convert her first match point in a 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 win over the Slovenian.

Watson, 30, plays 97th-ranked German Jule Niemeier in the fourth round.

"It wouldn't be me if there wasn't a bit of drama at the end!" Watson said.

Recording her first third-round win at her 42nd Slam, the British number four clinched the first-set tie-break at the fourth opportunity before eventually confirming victory having at one point led the second set 5-0.

She received a standing ovation, returning to the court to enjoy her breakthrough triumph and placing her forehead on the ground to "thank the grass".

"What an atmosphere. There is nowhere I would rather make round four," Watson said. Addressing the crowd, she added: "I wasn't even that nervous but you guys got me over the line.

"It means everything, playing here at home in front of you guys the, the atmosphere is everything."

Resilient Watson takes major step

Heather Watson
Heather Watson has reached the singles fourth round at Wimbledon for the first time in 12 appearances

In 2015, the first of her three third-round appearances at Wimbledon, Watson served for the match against American great Serena Williams but eventually lost in three sets.

Since then, she said it had been her aim to reach the fourth round.

Watson celebrated an emotional victory over Tamara Korpatsch in her first-round match on Court One earlier this week, following what she described as a "disaster" on the very same stage last year as she missed a match point in defeat by lucky loser Kristie Ahn.

She produced a superb display as she once again returned to the show court, having equalled her best Wimbledon singles performance by ousting China's Wang Qiang in straight sets in the second round.

Making her 12th Wimbledon appearance, Watson has played every day of the tournament so far in a demanding start after her first two singles matches were halted late on Monday and Wednesday.

Despite three comfortable opening holds and a break point of her own, it was the Briton who first lost serve in the seventh game but she maintained her composure to hit back immediately.

Resilience was a key factor in Watson's victory. She led the tie-break 6-3 but after getting back to 6-6, the Slovenian conceded the set with a double fault under the pressure of a fourth break point.

Somewhat unexpectedly, that quality was required again in the second set as a free-swinging Juvan rallied to claw back one of the three breaks she trailed by - and held four break points on Watson's serve at 5-2.

However, roared on by the home crowd, Watson battled back, closing out her biggest career singles win with a forehand volley.

Awaiting her in round four at SW19 is the world number 97 Niemeier, who progressed with a 6-4 3-6 6-3 win over Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko.

Analysis

Three-time Wimbledon champion John McEnroe on Today at Wimbledon

Nearly beating Serena Williams in 2015, to me, was the best she's ever played by far and somehow she didn't win that. Then there's a hangover and then you're at the point where you're sort of in the minor leagues. But then to have this chance, think about what she's been through the last seven years to get back to this stage. Dreams still come true.

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