Britain’s Heather Watson pushed world No 2 Maria Sharapova to the brink in their second-round match in Tokyo on Tuesday. In an exclusive interview, the 20-year-old tells The Tennis Space why she’s not satisfied with that and how she can improve to get closer to her goal – winning grand slam titles.
After such a dramatic match, how are you feeling overall?
Mostly disappointed. It was a tough three-setter, very physical, but I went out there to win and I gave it everything I had. I maybe didn’t take advantage of winning that close first set and trying to get ahead quick in the second. But I’ve gained more experience today, I know what I need to do, I know where I stand, I know what I need to improve. So I’m glad I contended hard with her but obviously it was unfortunate that I didn’t come out with the win, I really wanted it. As long as I keep getting closer and closer I’m happy.
Is it a sign of how far you’ve come that you are disappointed, rather than satisfied against a multiple grand slam champion?
Yeah, of course. I treated it like any other match against any other player and I was going to give it my best and aim for the win. It doesn’t matter who I’m playing against, I’m going to give everything I have to win.
You pushed her close at the US Open last year too. Did you sense that you’re in her head a little?
Yeah, I think, today she didn’t play that well but then neither did I, I didn’t play my best. I think we were both struggling with our serve later in the match, getting broken a lot, but still, she’s giving it everything she has and so am I, and I’m glad I can contend with No 2 in the world, grand slam champion because that’s where I am aiming to get, that high in the rankings and to win grand slams.
What have you been working on and what do you need to work on?
I’ve been working on playing more aggressive and coming to the net more, I like to volley, I am good at volleying. I probably didn’t do it as much as I should have done today but that’s what I’ve been working on and I’m going to keep to it, because that’s how you beat the top players, by winning the points and not waiting for them to miss.
You had your leg strapped – how is it?
In my first match I cramped very badly and was actually on the floor, in the second-set tiebreak, and I had micro-tears, so I was keeping looking after that. But it was getting better and better each day and by today, it wasn’t too bad.
Your ranking will be around 70 – what can you achieve before the year is out?
I just want to keep climbing the ladder. I’m still aiming for my goal – it will be very tough but I’m not going to quit, I’m going to keep trying – it would have been great to have got the win today but it didn’;t happen so I’m going to carry on working hard and hopefully it will go a bit better the next couple of weeks (Beijing and Osaka).
Your goal is the top 50, right?
Yes, it is. It’s still possible and even if it wasn’t I’d try and get as close to it as possible.