Annabel Croft has told The Tennis Space that Heather Watson has “the right personality” to deal with the pressure and expectations of playing at Wimbledon for years to come.
Croft has said that Watson, who was beaten in the third round by third seed Agnieszka Radwanska, is “very well-suited to competing as she doesn’t seem to let things bother her too much – she takes everything in her stride and I don’t think she will get too fazed by the pressure”. Croft also spoke of how Watson, the first British woman to make the last 32 for ten years, “is like a singer who’s done the pubs and the clubs – she’s put in the hard graft”.
Croft on whether Watson or Laura Robson has the greater potential: “Everyone’s wondering about this. I’ve always thought that Heather may end up being more consistent because she’s a better athlete. I think that’s proving to be the case already. I think Heather is like a singer who’s done the pubs and the clubs. She’s gone out there and put the hard graft in and she’s worked her way up, so the victories she’s had here at Wimbledon have been very well-deserved. I think Laura seems to have skipped a few things, I think that’s fair to say.
“Laura’s got way more pop on the ball, great timing, she’s got a great forehand and great serve – it’s lefty and swings out wide. So she’s tough to play. But she doesn’t move that well. They’re total opposites of each other, aren’t they? I think Laura needs to be more flexible in her movement because the game has moved in that direction.”
Croft on how Watson and Robson will cope with the pressures of playing at Wimbledon: “It’s difficult, really difficult, for British players. I think that was a defining moment for her in her first-round defeat to Schiavone. She was clearly ‘in’ that match – she won the first set – and was capable of winning, but then Schiavone’s experience shone though. And the pressure and expectation gets on top of you. I always struggled here. You put pressure on yourself because you want to do well at your home grand slam, and that pressure can be excruciating. I used to hear every tut and sigh when I missed a shot in the net.
“Heather has a massive advantage in that her personality is very well-suited to competing as she doesn’t seem to let things bother her too much. She appears to really relish a challenge and enjoy the challenge, and she takes it all in her stride. I don’t think she will get too fazed by the pressure. I think if anyone’s going to get fazed by the pressure of playing here, it’s going to be Laura.”
Croft on how high Watson and Robson can go in the rankings: “In the women’s game now, there are a lot of opportunities. Nobody is dominating in the women’s game so it’s unlimited where you can go. It’s very fluid. I can see both of them in the top 50, and obviously from then on in it does get tougher, and it’s about being able to maintain that level. It can be a bumpy road. The tour life can beat it out of you. They definitely have opportunities, though.”