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January 18, 2022

Heather Watson

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

H. WATSON/M. Mayar

6-3, 5-7, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: A great way to start your AO campaign. Tough match but great to come away with a win.

HEATHER WATSON: Yeah. I'm really happy to get through this one because the last couple years have not been good for me.

And I had a great pre-season in Florida and I found my love and joy for tennis and competing again. I feel like the last couple years I felt really anxious before matches, just really not even wanting to go out there, but trying to get over it because I know in sport there's always ups and downs.

So, yeah, I had a great pre-season. I played two tournaments in Adelaide. I was happy with how I played in both of those tournaments. Lost some tight ones but to good players and I was playing the right way.

Today I was excited to play. I couldn't wait to get out on the court. So, yeah, I'm happy I got through it. It wasn't my best how I have been playing, but I fought well. I feel like in the second set I lost my game plan and I found myself too far behind the baseline, but as soon as I stepped in after that first game in the third I felt really good and left the court with a really good feeling.

Q. You hit a lot of winners. That was what struck me, and that seems to speak to what you're talking about there of positive mindset.

HEATHER WATSON: Yeah. I think when I've played well in the past I do hit a lot of winners and I serve really well. And especially against a player like her when I lost my game in the second set and I was too far behind the baseline I couldn't do anything, but as soon as I stepped in it was a completely different story, so that's the key to me playing well.

So I served good those first few balls to be aggressive on.

Q. What was it about Florida then that made you sort of re-find that love?

HEATHER WATSON: I don't know. Maybe it was just time because I do my pre-season every year in Florida, apart from the year before this one because of COVID, and I love it there. I really just focused on just being surrounded by good people. And my coach, Pat Harrison, out there, he's just such a positive person and he has so much love for tennis and the game that it just, it just, so spending time with him it just sort of like came on to me.

We were on the court four hours a day minimum because that's what he's like (laughing), and, yeah, I think I got into good shape again. I got out of shape like a lot of people in COVID, but I feel super fit and strong and good about myself.

Q. How long have you been with Pat?

HEATHER WATSON: Oh, we were trying it to figure it out. It's been years. Maybe from my late teens he's been, he was at IMG, yeah.

Q. In terms of him being, actually coaching you, is he your coach or is he just pre-season?

HEATHER WATSON: He does pre-season with me and he's my coach. He doesn't travel. He doesn't like to travel, airplanes and that, but we communicate all the time. I'm not with Alex Wood anymore, who was traveling with me. So I'm like travel coach-less basically at the moment.

But, yeah, I'm here with one of my best friends from school, Mara. She's taken some time off work to be with me here. And for the next few tournaments I'll be with my mom. And I'm always looking for a coach, but again, I'm in no rush until I find the right one and the right fit for me.

Q. In Monterrey you won with your mom coming on the court.

HEATHER WATSON: Yeah, it was. And it was Mother's Day of the final.

Q. (No microphone.)

HEATHER WATSON: I never call my coach on court anymore. I didn't know you could still do that. I don't know.

Q. Maybe not in COVID. I don't know.

HEATHER WATSON: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I didn't know.

Q. You've been spending quite a lot of time in Bolton as well, haven't you?

HEATHER WATSON: Yes, I have. That's because my boyfriend's playing football up there and actually my dad has an apartment in Blackpool because, my dad's from up that way.

And, yeah, so I have been spending time there at Bolton Arena and training there and I love it. The people there are just great. Steve Fathers and the team there, yeah, they have been so supportive of me. And I join in the squads. I hit with a lot of young boys there. It gives me sort of the same atmosphere as IMG, sort of that squad vibe.

Q. How great does it feel to be really looking forward to going out for a match, excited about it instead of feeling anxious?

HEATHER WATSON: Oh, I can't even tell you the difference. Yeah, it felt really good. No matter what the result was today, I mean, of course I would have been upset if I lost, but I just know that it's, it will come, that the results will come, because I'm playing the right way and I'm fit and strong and I'm doing everything right at the moment.

Q. Did you and Alex break at the end of the season or was it before that?

HEATHER WATSON: Yeah, it was in December he called me to let me know.

Q. Were you upset or was it something --

HEATHER WATSON: I don't think it was, I think it was more of the academy choice. It wasn't us splitting with each other.

Q. (No microphone.)


Q. So it wasn't up to you, though?

HEATHER WATSON: No. No, it wasn't.

Q. Did you not find that disappointing or were you fine about it?

HEATHER WATSON: I feel like, yeah, I mean, I really like Alex. He's a great friend. But then I kind of, I'm obviously so grateful for all he's done and supported me, but sometimes I really sort of saw it in a positive way to start afresh, start something new, especially I think because I was in such a good place that I didn't, I had just thought, okay, that's life, move on, on to the next.

Q. You were already in Florida then?

HEATHER WATSON: Yes, I was in Florida.

Q. What part of Florida is it?


Q. You're playing Tamara Zidansek next. Are you looking forward to that, obviously having played last week?

HEATHER WATSON: Yeah, I am really looking forward to playing her. I played well in that match, especially in the first set, and I just lost my focus and that's all it was. So that's an easy fix.

But I'm really looking forward to playing her again and I'm excited for the next round.

Q. Your positivity and your buildup is a slight contrast to 2021, isn't it, in your Australian Open experience?

HEATHER WATSON: Yes. Oh, the buildup, 100 percent. It was such a contrast this year. When I got into the country, I just had to do the electronic passport. It was so simple. And it was so much more relaxed than last year. I was a bit caught off-guard.

So, yeah, I started in Adelaide and it was really nice to be there and see the city.

Q. You've got your mojo back, it seems like. Is that something that can propel you to the second week for the first time? Do you think you can build up momentum over the next couple rounds?

HEATHER WATSON: Boring answer, but I'm just taking it match by match. I'm just focused on my match against Zidansek next.

But even before that I've got doubles tomorrow. So, yeah, I'm not looking too far ahead, just making sure I take care of the little things and stay in my routines, sleep well, ice bath, and just switch off. I actually went to the cinema yesterday to watch the Spiderman movie and halfway through it I caught myself thinking, Oh, I haven't thought about tennis, and then I had to stop myself from thinking about it again. Yeah, but just doing those little things really helps because, I mean, every player here can play great tennis. Everyone's fit, everyone can hit a great ball on their day.

I think just the difference is mental and who is more confident, who believes more, who trusts in their game. So I'm working a lot on that.

Q. Last month we saw Johanna Konta retire at the age of 30. You turn 30 this year, I just want to presume there's no plans for you to finish, your career is going slightly different because you file like you've got momentum and enjoyment to carry on into your fourth decade?

HEATHER WATSON: Yes, I'm really happy I've found that love and joy again and I think it really reflects with my results and, you know, I just take it day by day. Right now I'm loving it and I know that maybe in a month or in a few weeks or maybe I won't enjoy it so much because I'll have a hard loss, but I just, I have that experience to know that it comes and goes, so you've just got to ride the wave and I'm riding my positive wave right now.

I was sad to see her go, especially because I think she's so young still and she's such a great player, but it's whatever makes you happy in life and it was her time.

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