Heather Watson is set to celebrate her 22nd birthday today by returning to the world’s top 100. The Briton claimed her second International Tennis Federation title of the year yesterday when she won two matches in a day to win the Prague Open clay-court event.
Watson beat Hungary’s Timea Babos 7-6, 6-3 in the morning’s delayed semi-finals and went on to beat Slovakia’s Anna Schmiedlova, the world No 66, 7-6, 6-0 in the final later in the day.
The first set of the final featured eight breaks of serve, with Watson trailing for much of it but winning the tie-break 7-5. The Briton then ran away with the second set to complete her victory.
Watson reached her career-high position of No 39 in the world rankings in February last year, shortly before she went down with glandular fever. The illness meant a steady slide down the rankings and by February of this year she stood at No 161 in the world.
In recent months, however, Watson has been making good progress. She won an ITF tournament in the United States in February and picked up more ranking points by winning three matches in Indian Wells the following month.
The Briton was ranked No 112 at the start of the Prague tournament but could now climb into the low 90s. That is likely to make her the British No 2, Johanna Konta having overtaken her earlier this year. Watson could soon be the British No 1 again. Laura Robson, who currently holds that position, is out of the game with a wrist injury and expects to miss both the French Open and Wimbledon.