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Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Give Heather Watson a chance to shine

It has been a significant overreaction from those involved in the British media following Heather Watson's performance against Maria Sharapova in the 1st Round of the US Open last night.

I would like to begin by saying Watson played solid tennis, but she was helped significantly by a very poor Sharapova performance, yet the British teenager could not finish off the 2nd favourite for the tournament.

There is no shame in that, but to tout her as a potential top 20 player on ONE performance is unbelievably sensationalist.

Personally I would warn Watson that there is still a lot of hard work ahead of her if she wants to progress up the rankings. She is a hustler on the court, but with no real weapons to hurt opponents so it is no real surprise to see her ranked outside of the top 100.

Watson will not be the first teenager to have an standout match at Grand Slam level against a top 20 player to lose her way and disappear of the map. I would not want to happen, but it does and she cannot believe the hype around one performance.

It was only last week she was being dismantled by Petra Cetkovska while winning only 2 games in a heavy straight sets defeat.

For further warnings, she should only look at the American 19 year old, Melanie Oudin, who had a much greater impact at this event in 2009 and was touted as the next big thing but who is now ranked lower than Watson.

In 2009, Oudin reached the Quarter Final here as a 17 year old, beating Sharapova as well as Elena Dementieva and Nadia Petrova before falling to Caroline Wozniacki.

She actually fought back from a 1 set deficit to defeat all 3 of the ladies I mentioned, but her career has been on a downward spiral since then as the weight of expectation has been heavy on her young shoulders. Oudin's best efforts at Grand Slam level since that Summer of 2009 has been to reach the 2nd round at Australia and in this event in 2010.

While Watson is enjoying the limelight, she has to be aware of what is in front of her in terms of hard work if she doesn't want her career to follow the path that Oudin's has taken- the American was exiting the tournament at the first stage on Monday night as a warning to young players what can happen once the limelight is no longer shining as brightly on your prospects.

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