Heather Watson fit and ready to rise back up the rankings

 

Heather Watson hugged the baseline like a safety blanket, hating what did not zip by in a blur.

As she slipped to an ignominious first-round Wimbledon exit last summer, the disorientated Watson fought in vain against glandular fever's debilitating grip.

Commanding the court's heart 12 months on, Watson stalks the net with a clean bill of health, a new coach - and a new game plan.

If impatience ruined 2013, Watson is adamant courage will continue her catapult back up the world rankings.

"I think this surface rewards the brave," Watson told Press Association Sport.

"It's a very quick surface and the points are quick too, so your first few shots need to be very precise and very aggressive.

"I think I'm now doing what I need to do to push myself back up the rankings ladder, to push towards my big goals.

"I'm more aggressive now, I've changed my style, and that's what I think will get me to the next level."

Hindsight reveals Watson ploughed back into action with neither the health nor the preparation to thrive last summer.

Her straight-sets loss to American Madison Keys hit hard - but so too did the lessons.

The Guernsey-born 22-year-old will start Wimbledon ranked 92 in the world, back in the top 100 for the first time this season.

Argentinian coach Diego Veronelli has overseen a resurgence that has included two titles and a nine-match winning streak, only ended by Simona Halep.

The rejuvenated Romanian progressed from that second-round victory to the French Open final: ambitious Watson will not hail defeat, but is confident of an upward curve.

"Last year feels so long ago, it's almost a blur in my head now I think, because I'm just a completely different person now," she said.

"I didn't really want to remember last year but I'm enjoying my tennis now, and playing a lot better.

"Glandular fever is hard enough if you're not expending huge amounts of energy every day, let alone when you are trying to sustain a professional career as an athlete.

"It just takes it all out of you, but I'm fit and healthy now, and I'm just so pleased to be able to look after myself.

"I've actually had a few bumps this year already, I injured my rib earlier on, but I was able to come back stronger from that.

"And I think the illness really changed me, I'd never experienced anything like that before, and it's just added so much motivation to me.

"I've got two titles this year, that was one of my goals, to win another title.

"Last year I didn't win anything, and I've got two already this season, so I'm very pleased with that.

"And they were very tough tournaments.

"I just want to keep that up and keep trying for higher goals now, keep climbing the rankings ladder.

"It was a very tough second round at the French and she almost won the title.

"I had a tough draw but after all the matches I'd won I'm not too disappointed and hopefully I can learn a great deal from that.

"That said, it's not my goal to be reaching the second round of grand slam tournaments, I want to be heading into the second week and further than that."

Watson could leapfrog Laura Robson as Britain's number one this summer - but is uninterested in taking the title on a technicality.

Robson's wrist surgery has ruled her out of action at both the French Open and Wimbledon, but Watson is not considering profit.

"I'm more focused on the bigger picture and the world rankings," said Watson.

"A top place in the world is the ultimate goal, and of course, it's such a frustration when you are forced to miss out with injury.

"I know what it's like not to be able to compete, everyone wants to be fit and in action, and hopefully she'll be back soon."

PA

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas