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With a new coach and a clean bill of health, Heather Watson is eager to get up and running in 2014.

While this year has been a historic one for British tennis, Heather Watson is unlikely to look back on it with too much fondness.

In January, Watson was riding the crest of a wave. Having recently won her first WTA title and perched inside the Top 50, the tennis world appeared to be her oyster. And at first it looked like this upward trajectory would continue, as a third round appearance at the Australian Open and a quarterfinal in Memphis propelled her to a career-high ranking of No.39.

A bout of glandular fever, however, stopped her progress in its tracks, contributing to a run of poor form before forcing her off the tour entirely for the best part of two months.

On her return, progress was slow as the 21-year-old struggled to rediscover both form and fitness. A run of poor results saw her slip down the rankings and also part with her coach of the last two years, Mauricio Hadad.

After working with the LTA's Jeremy Bates for the remainder of the season, Watson appointed Florida-based Diego Veronelli earlier this month.

Watson and Veronelli have been working together in London for the past few weeks and will travel to Australia on December 30, where Watson is scheduled to play in Brisbane, Sydney and at the Australian Open.

Despite her recent struggles, the Briton is upbeat ahead of the new campaign.

"Getting ill and getting glandular fever this year was just an obstacle. It's done now, it's finished," Watson said. "It happens, people have setbacks. I'm definitely looking forward to putting it behind me and starting fresh in 2014."

Before setting off Down Under, Watson took time out of her pre-season training to help inspire Britain's next generation of sporting talent at Statoil's Heroes Of Tomorrow programme at the Royal Albert Hall.

"I love playing at the Royal Albert Hall, and I love being able to spend time with the children," Watson added. "I was about 11 years old when Tim Henman came to do a clinic and I will never forget that and it really inspired me and meant so much, so it's really important for me to give back when I can as an ambassador for Statoil's Heroes of Tomorrow."

http://www.wtatennis.com/news/article/3572135/title/watson-eager-to-turn-over-new-leaf
 

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This will be the place where we all post news about Heather from now on.
 

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Heather Watson heads into US Open with super-charged self-belief
Heather Watson has a tough draw at the US Open but some important victories this year have fuelled her ambition


Heather Watson lost in the first round last year but feels confident about the upcoming US Open. Photograph: BPI/BPI/REX​

"I was kind of dreading my match last year," Heather Watson admits with the sort of candour that has come to characterise her pleasing transformation from one-time prospect to minnow in the treacherous waters of women’s international tennis.

The match she refers to was against Simona Halep in the first round of the 2013 US Open, just as the Romanian was bringing her own considerable talent bubbling up from anonymity on her way to establishing herself as a threat in a changing environment. Who knew then Halep would be such a force at the very top of the women's game?

"I wasn't feeling very positive about my game," Watson said. "I came in with zero matches. I lost first round in all of them. And Halep was coming up. She had just come off a tournament win. I'd say my confidence wasn't very high."

Halep dropped the first set before beating Watson 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. It was a losing performance of which the British player could be justly proud.

"This year," Watson says, "I'm really looking forward to it and playing well. I can really make the most of this rest of the year because I've got nothing really to defend, points-wise. I shouldn't really look at it like that, I should just try to move up as much as I can."

She is back in the top 50 now, and a considerably different proposition for opponents. If she beats Romania's Sorana Cirstea first up, as she should, there is a bigger challenge likely to be waiting in the second round in the shape of the Wimbledon runner-up, Eugenie Bouchard, who is seeded seventh. If Watson gets past her, she could face Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova in the third round, followed by the 12th seed Dominika Cibulkova, in the fourth.

"I think [Cibulkova] was joint with [Flavia] Pennetta [among her big 2014 scalps]. Both came this summer which is good, a positive thing, and hopefully I can get a higher one next time."

Players have to talk like this. Positivism lifts, defeatism confirms inner fears, but Watson is generally upbeat, whatever the circumstances.

She is turning in consistently excellent performances, win or lose, and believes her decision to play more aggressively since taking up with Diego Veronelli, her Argentinian coach, was an astute career move. Veronelli has encouraged her wish to express herself at the net and in her groundstrokes, as well as first time off the racket, while taming her instinct to grind it out at the back of the court, where her natural athleticism has served her well intermittently in the past.

"As quickly as I have risen this year – I think I was at 160-something at one point and now I'm 45, and the year's not over yet – I'm definitely going to stick with it," she says, as if describing a new gadget. "I've never really worked on it until starting with Diego. You're in control, you make it happen, you're not kind of hoping or wishing, and you're not killing yourself physically out there, just running side to side. I definitely enjoy it a lot more. I love coming into the net and finishing the point with a volley. It gives you more satisfaction."

She reckons, also, that she is a more mature and dangerous player than the last time she was in the top 50.

"Then I got there with a different game style, hoping my opponent is going to miss, am I going to play bad. Now I'm getting there off me playing well, me making those shots. And I feel I can go so much higher than I am now.

"I'm just a lot more positive about it, mentally and with my game at the moment. It will take me a lot higher. It's different for different players. You'll have it at your own time, some very young, some older, later in their careers, and I think I'm just finding that now."

Watson is also enjoying New York, the city where she made her first statement as a junior, winning the girls' title in 2009.

"When I try to sleep, I hear the cars honking all the time, which is quite annoying," she said of her accommodation in the middle of Manhattan, "and by the time I get here, train, get back, it's like an hour's drive each way, I don't usually have time to do stuff. But when I do, it's food. I just love food. I like to try different restaurants, a new one each year. Also comedy shows. I think they are so good here."

So, on the recommendation of the British press, she decided she would seek out tickets for The Book Of Mormon [there's an inspired production running at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre on W49th Street, by the way]. It could be the sort of off-site experience to put her at ease, take her mind away from the pressure of the high-level hell that awaits her at Flushing Meadows.

After years of tailgating Laura Robson, the British No1 has a clear field in front of her, an opportunity to make a definitive statement.

She is in no doubt about the size of the assignment here but, as she said at the French Open, where she played so well, there are no shocks in the women's game anymore, just very good players beating other very good players.

That is the sort of wide open landscape on which she could well prosper, maybe even make the second week, which would be a considerable achievement. And this time, Halep is on the other side of the draw.
http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/aug/23/heather-watson-us-open-2014-preview
 

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Watson has been back in full training for four weeks in Florida and, after a week at home that included speaking to young people at a Give It Your Max coaching clinic as part of Statoil's 'Heroes of Tomorrow' programme, she will head back to the United States for a further three weeks.

Before then she will sit down to talk through her goals for 2015 with father Ian, something she does at the end of every year.

"It gives me a clear vision, something to reach for, and it lets me know where I stand and how it's gone," the 22-year-old said.

Their review of 2014 will no doubt be positive, with Watson putting her problems of the previous year behind her with consistently strong performances.

She claimed two singles titles on the second-tier ITF circuit, which helped her climb back into the top 100, and defeated the first two top-20 players of her career in Flavia Pennetta and Dominika Cibulkova.

Watson's success had a lot to do with a newly aggressive style of play cultivated under the guidance of Argentinian coach Diego Veronelli, who she began working with a year ago.

The season would have been even better had Watson not tailed off at the end, winning only one of her final seven matches.

"Early on in the year I dropped to 160 in the world so I'm glad I was able to get back up in the rankings and start playing well again and get my confidence back and get back to where I was before I fell ill with glandular fever," said Watson.

"I was hoping to be a little higher. I didn't have a great finish to the season in Asia, I think I was just exhausted mentally and physically and couldn't continue my run but I'm just very pleased with how most of it went.

"Hopefully next year can be even better. I'm feeling fit and ready already. I remember last year I was kind of dreading it but I just want to get out there as soon as possible."
Watson Relishes Robson Battle
 

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http://www.tennisnow.com/Blogs/NET-POSTS/January-2015-(1)/Watson-Signs-with-New-Balance.aspx

The British No. 1 has signed on with New Balance. The 38th-ranked Watson wore New Balance apparel and shoes en route to the Hobart title earlier this month.

"I am really excited about my new partnership with such a cool and innovative global brand as New Balance," Watson said. "It is a great honor[sic] for me to be welcomed into the New Balance sporting family and I am looking forward to playing my own part in the brand's growing tennis ambitions."

Watson joins Wimbledon semifinalist Milos Raonic as a New Balance endorser and more players may be coming. The brand says it is on a drive to "build a formidable presence in the tennis market worldwide."


Watson lost in the Australian Open first round to Tsvetana Pironkova.
 

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Heather Watson crashes out of Miami Open as Chris Evert backs Laura Robson to break into the top 10 on return from injury

  • Heather Watson was beaten in the Miami Open second round on Saturday
  • Angelique Kerber won 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 against Watson to end her progress
  • Elsewhere, Chris Evert has backed Laura Robson to reach the top 10
  • Robson has been out for 14 months with a wrist injury that needed surgery
BY MIKE DICKSON FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY

Chris Evert has given a vote of confidence to Laura Robson by insisting that the former British No 1 can still make the world’s top 10 when she finally gets back from injury.

The American, among the all-time greats of the women's game, reckons that Robson can make up for lost time despite having been out for 14 months with a wrist injury that required surgery last April.

Evert offered her endorsement as current Great British No 1 Heather Watson went out of the Miami Open second round on Saturday, beaten 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 by world No 15 Angelique Kerber after creating enough chances to have won.

Heather Watson makes her way off the court after crashing out of the Miami Open to Angelique Kerber

Watson was beaten 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 by world No 15 Kerber at Crandon Park Tennis Centre on Saturday​

"Yes it has been a very long time but Laura is still young so she will be fine," said Evert, speaking at the launch of her new Chrissie by Tail clothing line.

"If she was 27 or 28 there would be a problem but she has got plenty of time on her side," said the 18-time Grand Slam winner.

"I was very impressed with her at Wimbledon in 2013 before the injury. I was thinking top 10 for sure and that can still be attainable. But she has got to get herself really fit for her return to the tour and that is going to be tough for Laura."

Current British No 1 Watson (left) shakes hands with Kerber at the net after their second round match

Laura Robson has been backed to reach the top 10 upon her return from a 15-month injury lay-off​

There are signs that Robson may finally be ready for a return to action in time for May's French Open in Paris, despite missing out on Miami and taking her name off the entry list for next month's WTA Tour event in Bogota. When she does come back, however, it is likely to be at a lower-profile event.

Meanwhile, her long-time friendly rival Watson resumed at 5-7 down in her rain-delayed contest with Kerber, having missed a set point the previous afternoon before a deluge arrived. The final two sets proved to be as wildly undulating as the first one had been.

The 22-year-old from Guernsey, breathing down the neck of her career-high ranking of 38, will know that this was a match she could have won against a player who has been as high as No 5 in the world but has suffered a disappointing year to date.

With a little more composure she would have done, and an indication of how much it hinged on the more vital moments was that she ended up with more points than her more experienced opponent, with 113 to 111.

The games often came in blocks as two nervous combatants became confident and then fearful again, depending on the scoreboard.

In relatively cool conditions for this event, Watson went 2-0 up in the second, then 3-2 down, before reeling off the next four games.

Kerber, a left-hander who has been to the Wimbledon semi-finals, then surged to 5-1 as Watson was broken immediately in the decider, losing one point through a volleying error of astonishing simplicity.

The anxious German looked tired — "she's knackered, Heather" cried out an English voice — and Watson duly got back on serve to 4-5 before four unforced errors sealed her fate.

It could have been a different end to this segment of the season, and once her doubles is over she will be concentrating on the clay courts.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/tennis/article-3016242/Heather-Watson-crashes-Miami-Open-Chris-Evert-backs-Laura-Robson-break-10-return-injury.html
 
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