Heather Watson: British star blows huge lead to Iga Swiatek ahead of Wimbledon

In a career of near misses, Heather Watson was once again left to reflect on what could have been as she blew a huge final set lead against Iga Świątek at the Viking International in Eastbourne.

The British star was 4-1 up in the deciding set against the Polish youngster but was broken twice –– eventually losing 3-6 7-6 5-7 in two hours and 44 minutes.

It was a performance that proved the 29-year-old could compete with the best players in the world. Świątek is the world number nine, a Grand Slam champion and a former winner of the Wimbledon Juniors title.

But no matter how promising the performance, the Brit struggled to get over the line. There were too many unforced errors, too many double faults and ultimately too many cracks under pressure.

The result is even more disappointing when you consider Watson had recently come into some form. Although she is ranked 65th in the world and suffered a torrid clay court season, the former British number one reached the semi-finals in Birmingham last week before losing to eventual winner Ons Jabeur.

It was the first time a British woman had reached the last four at the tournament since Jo Durie in 1992 and highlighted once again how comfortable Watson feels on the grass.

Despite never reaching the fourth round of a major, the Guernsey born player has reached the third round at Wimbledon on three occasions.

In truth, her talent deserves far better statistics than these. Some fans may remember her epic contest with Serena Williams back in 2015, where she came within two points of victory.

Six years later, Watson remains one of Britain’s biggest hopefuls. She won the Battle of the Brits league back in December 2020, though Johanna Konta was not playing in the event.

So irrespective of the loss against Świątek, Watson shouldn’t be too disheartened. The consistency may not be there, nor the mental toughness that so often separates the good from the best. But the Brit is still a talented tennis player and as we’ve seen in the past, she is capable of beating anyone on her day.

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