Heather Watson blasted past former world No 5 Daniela Hantuchova in straight sets to book a potential third-round Wimbledon clash with Serena Williams, Sky News reports. British No 1 Watson dispatched Czech star Hantuchova 6-4 6-2 to equal her best-ever showing at Wimbledon by reaching the last 32. Watson was forced to rally after a flat start for a three-set victory over Caroline Garcia in the first round, but needed no such psyching up amid Wimbledon’s hottest day of all time.
The 23-year-old admitted winding herself up to find the “controlled aggression” to move past Garcia, in a clash that spanned two days owing to bad light on Monday night. Watson sustained that high-tempo approach against current world No 46 Hantuchova, deservedly progressing – and comfortably so in the end. Barring the biggest upset of the tournament so far, Watson will now meet Williams in the third round, the American gunning for tennis’ Holy Grail, the calendar Grand Slam.
Williams must first dispose of Hungary’s Timea Babos, the pair’s second-round clash slated for Centre Court’s final action on Wednesday. “I’m really looking forward to playing Serena; I’ve never played her before,” Watson told the BBC. “She’s an amazing champion, athlete and competitor. It won’t be easy, but I’m really looking forward to playing her at Wimbledon.” Watson has only reached the third round once before, in 2012, and as the world No 64 would doubtless assume the underdog mantle against 20-time Grand Slam champion Williams.
The ambitious and driven Brit’s ranking has peaked at 38 so far in her career, but she has widely been tipped to crack the top 20. Watson started brightly against Hantuchova, doubtless keen to shrug off any of the malaise she felt gifted Garcia the first set in their first-round meeting. Both ladies held serve in a solid start before Watson produced three double-faults to hand Hantuchova the initiative.
Refusing to allow the jitters to set in though, Watson broke straight back, before breaking again at the very next opportunity to take control of the set. Turning the set on its head in a flash allowed Watson the confidence to serve out and take a one-set lead without any real issues. Watson then never allowed the rest of the match to become a contest, dominating Hantuchova at almost every turn in the second set.
The British hope broke her Czech adversary straight away, only to drop her own serve the next game. But after that she fired right back, breaking twice in succession before serving out for victory.