The busiest player at Wimbledon

LONDON — Heather Watson knelt down in the middle of Court 1 on Friday. She lowered her head to the ground, and silently thanked the grass. She captured the moment.

Watson just advanced to the fourth round at Wimbledon with a 7-6 (6), 6-2 win first Kaja Juvan. The smile on her lips as she stood up said it all.

“It means everything,” Watson told the audience shortly afterwards. “Here playing at home in front of you the atmosphere.”

She paused while a fan shouted, “We love you, Heather!”

“I love you too,” she replied. “Can you all come back to my round 4?”

If her reaction seems over the top at the moment, consider this: It marks the first big round of 16 of the 30-year-old’s career.

And she did it with the wildest, most disruptive schedule possible.

Due to the delay in the rain and darkness, Watson has played singles during the five days of Wimbledon so far. She started her first match with Tamara Korpatsch on Monday night – a day that had previously been halted due to rain – before it was halted because it was dark and had to be completed by Tuesday.

After that, Watson’s second round match against Qiang Wang suffered a similar fate on Wednesday night, and it was suspended at 7-5, 5-4. On Thursday, she needed just one match, and eight minutes, to qualify for the third round.

Through it all, she’s dealt with four hours of sleepless nights, copious amounts of caffeine, limited late-night snack options (cookies are the only thing on Wednesday nights) – and a complete lack of routine. . But, somehow, the chaos worked in her favor, and she hit her career goal of reaching a second week at a Grand Slam.

“[This is] I was able to enjoy this win for the first time, because I felt like in my first two matches I was just constantly in focus mode. It’s like the game hasn’t stopped, even when I leave the club. It has been suspended; I’m either going to sleep or trying to sleep,” Watson said Friday.

“It always goes straight to the next win. So I feel like this win is very different from the others, not just because I hit one of my goals but because I have a bit of time. time to finish it.”

But there really isn’t any time on Friday to do that. After several media appearances following the win, Watson was scheduled to play in her first round doubles match against her partner. Harriet Dart.

And her schedule probably won’t get any busier in the next few days – Watson is also playing mixed doubles with Ken Skupskiand they are expected to play on Saturday.

Watson has long been a favorite British tennis player for the Wimbledon crowd, and she won the mixed doubles title at the event in 2016. Now, in her 12th appearance at the All England Club , she will have the opportunity to extend her stay and reach for her singles. Sunday’s quarterfinals in a clash with Jule Niemeierthe person who surprised the 2nd seed Anett Kontaveit in the second round.

The two played in Monterrey earlier this year, with Watson winning in three sets. But with so much tennis to play first, Watson hasn’t started thinking about that yet. She didn’t even know she was playing Niemeier until a reporter informed her.

“It never ends,” Watson said. “A lot of tennis, but it’s a good thing. Just make sure I just take care of myself. I’m just in the present moment, not thinking ahead, not thinking back.”

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