Wat­son hop­ing to break out of ‘vi­cious cy­cle’

The Courier & Advertiser (Dundee Edition) - - SPORT -

Heather Wat­son is hop­ing the Aus­tralian Open can help her break out of the “vi­cious cy­cle” she has be­come trapped in.

There have been a few highs mixed with a lot of lows since the 26-year-old nearly caused a mon­u­men­tal shock against Ser­ena Wil­liams in the third round of Wim­ble­don in 2015.

At that stage her ca­reer still ap­peared very much on the up, but last year she dropped out of the top 100 be­fore climb­ing back again and will be­gin her cam­paign at Mel­bourne Park ranked 108.

Wat­son is usu­ally a pos­i­tive talker so it was telling when she said ahead of to­day’s clash with 31st seed Pe­tra Mar­tic: “I feel like the last year or two I’ve not been do­ing as well as I should be, or could be, do­ing.

“I’ve been work­ing re­ally hard so I’m just want­ing the hard work to match the re­sults. But the more I get older, the more I re­alise how the most im­por­tant thing is just be­ing con­fi­dent in your­self and able to stay re­laxed in those tense, im­por­tant mo­ments.”

Wat­son, who has won only a sin­gle match at the last five grand slams com­bined – and only one match in the last five years at Mel­bourne Park – is one of seven Bri­tish play­ers com­pet­ing on the open­ing day of the tour­na­ment.

While most of the at­ten­tion will fall on Andy Mur­ray, qual­i­fier Har­riet Dart has her own mo­men­tous oc­ca­sion when she takes on Maria Shara­pova on Rod Laver Arena.

The 22-year-old landed the plum draw at only her sec­ond ma­jor tour­na­ment, and is rel­ish­ing the oc­ca­sion.

There will be higher ex­pec­ta­tions on Dart’s fel­low qual­i­fier Dan Evans, who faces Ja­pan’s Tat­suma Ito, while Kyle Ed­mund will hope to sur­vive a stinker of a first round draw against To­mas

Berdych.

Ed­mund’s rank­ing would drop out­side the top 20 should he fall at the first hur­dle af­ter last year’s re­mark­able run to the last four, but he has not been los­ing any sleep over it.

He said: “It’s a num­ber on a sheet of paper. The worst that can hap­pen is I lose and I go down a bunch of rank­ings.”

Katie Boul­ter marks her slam de­but out­side of Wim­ble­don by tak­ing on Rus­sian Eka­te­rina Makarova while in-form Cameron Nor­rie plays dou­bles part­ner Tay­lor Fritz, of the USA.

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