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Heather Watson felt ‘hard done by’ over lack of Wimbledon ranking points

The 31-year-old made the second week in SW19 for the first time in 2022 but the WTA and ATP stripped the tournament of points.

Jonathan Veal
Monday 12 June 2023 18:20 BST
Heather Watson won her first WTA Tour level match since March (Zac Goodwin/PA)
Heather Watson won her first WTA Tour level match since March (Zac Goodwin/PA) (PA Wire)

Heather Watson says it is difficult not to feel “hard done by” after a year of struggle on the tour following her career-best Wimbledon performance last season.

The 31-year-old produced the best grand slam display of her singles career in 2022 when she made the second week for the first time, eventually going out in the fourth round.

But it counted for nothing in the rankings as the WTA and ATP stripped the tournament of points in response to the decision to ban Russian and Belarussian players following Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

In normal circumstances Watson would have received 240 points, which would have seen her ranking soar and then seen her gain automatic entry into other tournaments, but the reality saw her scratching around on the second-tier ITF Tour and she has not played in a grand slam since.

“It wasn’t Wimbledon’s fault, it wasn’t their choice but yeah, I do feel a little bit hard done by,” Watson, who beat Jule Niemeier in the first round at the Nottingham Open, told the PA news agency.

“It’s not their fault, but I wish I had the points, it would have been a very different story, but hey-ho.

“I feel like that after Wimbledon I went from an all-time high in my career and then not being awarded any points there really affected my tournament entries, being main draw in grand slams, I probably would have been main draw for the rest of the year and it just had a domino effect.

“I couldn’t get into WTA tournaments so I was playing ITFs and I was winning them all but the points are rubbish so it doesn’t help my ranking at all.

“You are playing top 100 girls in the ITF and I feel like dropping down to play was good for matches and you were playing players who aren’t the same level, but the strength in depth in women’s tennis has grown so much. Rankings-wise it has been a real rubbish year but I have actually won more matches.”

Her win over Niemeier in Nottingham will do little to boost her current ranking of 195, which will leave her needing a wild card if she is to get direct entry into this year’s event at SW19.

Asked whether she will have to qualify, she said: “I don’t know, I have applied for a wild card so I hope I get one.”

Fellow Brit Sonay Kartal is out, though, after a three-set loss to Pole Magdalena Frech.

The British number eight fought back after losing the first set, but Frech came on strong in the decider to ease through 6-3 5-7 6-2.

Top seed and world number eight Maria Sakkari beat Xiyu Wang 6-2 7-6 (6).

There are a host of home players in action on Tuesday, with new British number one Katie Boulter, who has taken over from Emma Raducanu, takes on compatriot Emily Appleton, with Harriet Dart, Katie Swan and Jodie Burrage also due on court.

Andy Murray will also be in action in the men’s Challenger event, fresh from his win at Surbiton last week.

Murray claimed his first title on home soil since Wimbledon in 2016 and is looking to build on that ahead of next month’s event at SW19.

The 36-year-old took part in a light practice on Monday with coach Ivan Lendl by his side.

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