Jun 28 2012 By Colin Mackenzie
Heathermania is taking over Wimbledon as Guernsey-Born Heather Watson marched into the third round, the first British lady to do so for a decade, following her triumphant 6-1, 6-4 win over American Jamie Lee Hampton, at 22, two years her senior.
Watson is a bundle of energy and enthusiasm, a ray of sunshine on a day when three hours were lost to rain delays. She hustled and bustled so that her more experienced opponent, ranked three places above her at 100, took a whole set to settle down - not helped by being foot faulted three times in her first three service games.
At the end of the 76 minute match which became tense in the second set when each was breaking the other's serve with regularity Watson's smile beamed at the crowd on No 2 Court, her delight paramount at matching Elena Baltacha's feat of ten years ago.
She can now expect her ranking to rise to the mid 70s, enabling her to be eligible for all the Grand Slams without having to qualify. And if Anne Keothavong and Elena Baltacha lose their second round matches at Wimbledon today she could even become Britain's No 1 player.
Watson lacks the physique of the bigger Eastern European girls but more than makes up for this in heart and athleticism. Gradually her serve, once her weaker element, is improving and she regularly dispatched it at 105 mph. At 4-3 up and serving in the second set she faced a deficit of 0-40, gritted her teeth and came through the crisis.
The girl who wears different coloured laces on her tennis shoes for each tournament (green at Wimbledon) said; "I've been having eggs and smoked salmon for breakfast every morning. Also when I pick up my towel after the change of ends I run up to pass it to the ballboy.
"Last year I was down on the floor (after suffering an arm injury in her first round defeat) and right now I'm feeling pretty good. This year when the last point was over there was an explosion of happiness for me. I love it when the crowd are so loud at the end, that's why I play tennis. The British crowd are great and I would love to keep winning for them.
"I always knew I could play this well so I am pleased that it is finally clicking into place. I've been working with my coach on being more aggressive, coming to the net. I know I can volley. I've been known as a counter puncher, good at moving and reading the game well, but if you want to get to the next level you've got to change things."
Today it is up to Balthacha and Keothavong to match Watson's achievement. They both face serious obstacles in the form of, respectively, Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and French Open finalist Sara Errani. A victory for either would be a massive boost for women's tennis in Britain. Watson herself faces World No 3 Agnieszka Radwanska tomorrow - a tough ask but not impossible against the Pole who does not favour grass as a surface.
Jamie Baker exited No 1 court with his reputation enhanced after detaining Andy Roddick, the No 30 seed and 2009 finalist, for three hours on Court 1, eventually capitulating 7-6, 6-4, 7-5. The young Scot, whose career was stalled by serious illness four years ago, can be proud of his effort.
Afterwards Roddick said; "That was difficult. I thought Jamie played really well. It could have gone either way in the first and third sets. I'd done my scouting reports on him but he really went at the ball. I wasn't comfortable throughout the match and he made it hard for me."
Caroline Wozniacki will be pondering the wisdom of her ongoing romance with golfer Rory McIlroy as her form continues in decline. The charming Dane, for almost a year No 1 in the world until meeting McIlroy last summer, has seen her ranking tumble. And it will suffer further after her first round defeat to rising Austrian star Tamira Paszek on Centre Court yesterday. The score was 5-7, 7-6, 6-4 and she had a match point in the second set.
There are no Australians left in the tournament after Sam Stosur's shock exit to Arantxa Rus, the Dutch girl ranked only 72 in the world. This is the first time since 1939 that no one from Down Under has made round three of this tournament. Stosur has never been effective on grass but even she must wonder how she managed to lose 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 to a player with relatively little experience.
Roger Federer delighted Prince Charles and his wife Camilla as he put on a masterclass of tennis in dispatching Fabio Fognini 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 on Centre Court. Reigning champion Novak Djokovic was rather more severely tested in beating Ryan Harrison 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
Today Andy Murray faces the giant Croat Ivo Karlovic, to whom he has never lost, on Centre Court. It will not be pretty as the serve will dominate. But Murray is one of the best returners in the world which, combined with the weakness of the Croat's backhand, should contribute to a straightforward victory.