Holy cow! With more attitude, less thought, Heather Watson can hit the top
Inside track: From the coach who worked with Watson for eight years
Tuesday 16 October 2012
No one knows how far Heather Watson can go after winning the Japan Open. But one thing I know for sure: this is not her highest ranking. If she maintains what she's doing and starts improving her game, she's nowhere near where she's going to reach.
Heather came to my academy as a very young girl. And Heather was a caring character. She likes to be kind, talk to everybody and joke, and just likes to be sociable. That's her warm personality. She is surrounded by very wonderful, kind parents. They don't interfere, they support, and that's unusual too.
Along the way, Heather began showing signs of really being more than just a good player, that she could be a top player. The big fact about Heather is this: she always got a little bit frightened or hesitant or nervous when playing the big points, and would overthink: "Can I win? Should I play safe? Should I do this?" And she actually overthought, rather than utilising her talent and movement, one of the biggest assets she has.
She's got to get a little bit more of that vengeance in her game. Not change her personality, but to go out there to beat the hell out of her opponent, and then compliment them at the end. To go to the next step, I believe that Heather is going to have to have more of a transition game. Play the big points a little bit more offensive. Come to the net a little bit more. Surprise attack. If she does that, I believe Heather will continue climbing the rankings.
Heather likes to talk and tell jokes. You can do that, but if you look at the Sharapovas and the Serenas it's all business. When you get up in that echelon it's all business. It doesn't mean that you can't talk to people. But attitude will have a big impact, and the reputation that you develop on the circuit will have a big impact. "Hey, this Heather Watson is for real now." Once you start earning a reputation like that, a lot of good things happen.
What she's got to continue doing now, or start doing, is beating the top 10 players. She's got to start knocking off the big 10. When you do that you begin picking up a lot more respect. She's come close.
She's had some close matches against Maria Sharapova (inset). But when she has a big player in trouble, she has to go for the kill. She can't play conservative. I talk to her and say, "Heather, that girl is there to beat the crap out of you, go out there and beat the crap out of her. And don't pray to win, go out there and win."
What helped is the addition of Mauricio Hadad as a full-time coach. He was a big-time player. He is very soft-spoken, but he knows what he talks about and doesn't say too much. And Hadad turned out to be good. And when Heather works with me, I'm sort of the doctor, I work on the techniques. But in this past six months to a year, I've talked to Heather and said "Heather, you can't think whether or not you can win in crucial times, you've got to know that you can win." And that's starting to pay off.
But what's helped Heather has been being here at the academy with several good players from different countries.
Another big asset was playing the Fed Cup for Great Britain where she had Judy Murray's influence. That helped. Then, playing doubles has given her a lot of confidence, and shows how good she is as a volleyer.
Next year will be very interesting because when you win one, now the circuit is going to respect you a little bit more, so they're going to play even tougher because you're a top 50 player now. So her road isn't going to be easy. People want to say "I beat that Watson, she's in the top 50 in the world." The better you get, the more people become aware of that as well.
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