There is every chance that they will be major rivals for years to come, but in the next few weeks Heather Watson and Laura Robson will be united in a common cause. The two young Britons have been given a wild card into the doubles competition at next month's Olympics and yesterday they took the chance to practise their teamwork.
Although the result was a straight-sets defeat to Sabine Lisicki and Hsieh Su-wei, there was confirmation that the friendship between two women who are potentially the best to emerge from the British female ranks for many a year is growing stronger.
With Anne Keothavong and Elena Baltacha, so long Britain's standard bearers, still competing at the highest level – the two 28-year-olds will both play singles at the Olympics – the women's game here has not been in such good shape for a long time. The relationship between Keothavong and Baltacha has not always been the warmest, but Watson and Robson are firm friends, as was evident yesterday.
Robson was asked about her doubles partner's breakfast habits, Watson having revealed that she starts every day at Wimbledon with smoked salmon and eggs. "Heather has disgusting stuff for breakfast," Robson said. "You're just so boring," Watson replied. "At Fed Cup she was having anchovies or herring," Robson countered. "Herring and salmon and all these things. I was just focusing on my cereal. Anne and Heather, they're in a world of their own at breakfast."
Watson, at 20, is two years older than Robson. She has been based at Nick Bollettieri's academy in Florida since she was 12, while Robson has mostly trained in Britain, although she had a spell in Paris. Because of their ages they were often at different events as juniors, although they played several Grand Slam junior tournaments together. Robson won the girls' title here in 2008 and Watson won the US Open junior event the following year.
"We go to dinner and movies and stuff," Watson said. "We hang out more when we're here in England. It's a lot easier to see each other here or when we're away at tournaments, because now we're starting to go to more tournaments together."
Robson, the world No 97, recently overtook Watson in the world rankings, but their positions will change after Wimbledon. While Robson lost in the first round, Watson, the world No 103, is expected to climb 20 places after reaching the third round. She would go even higher if she beats Agnieszka Radwanska today but knows she faces a big test against the world No 3.
Watson loves the big occasion, as she proved when she went within six points of beating Maria Sharapova at last year's US Open. "That match was good for me," Watson said. "It gave me confidence, let me know where I stood. I love getting the opportunity to play the top players because it helps me gain experience and lets me know what I need to work on. I go into every match thinking I've got a shot, otherwise there's not really much point in me even going out there. I believe in myself, I believe in my game."
As for the challenge of facing 23-year-old Radwanska, a stylish player who has never gone beyond the quarter-finals here, Watson said: "I've got a DVD of her previous match, so I'll be watching that tonight. I know she's got very good hands. She's not necessarily the most powerful of the top players, but she's very smart and physically very fit, so she'll be chasing every ball." Having had trouble sleeping, Watson was asked how she planned to have a better night. "Drink some milk, eat lots of chicken and open the windows," she said.Reuse content