Beaming Heather Watson insists the prospect of squaring up to world number one and five-time champion Serena Williams doesn’t frighten her one bit after she stormed into the third round of Wimbledon for just the second time in her career.
Overwhelming 2008 Australian Open semi-finalist Daniela Hantuchova, who also reached three other Grand Slam quarter-finals boasting a career prize money pot standing at over $10m, Watson rolled the dice.
She made the Monte Carlo-based millionaire look a pauper in comparison, winning 6-4, 6-2 and she is expected to take on favourite Williams, who is currently playing Hungarian Timea Babos.
Equalling her 2012 record, where she lost to third seed and eventual runner up Agnieszka Radwanska, the British number one, now has eyes for Williams on Centre.
The 23-year-old, 47th in the WTA rankings, booked her passage through in little over 85 minutes against the Slovakian and she said: “It’s not fair when people predict the future, but Serena’s a great player. She is a great champion and always the one to watch, always the favourite. I look forward to playing her… one day!
“The last time in the third round I overplayed totally against Radwanska, I tried to hit winners on the first ball but I have a feel for playing the good players now, so it won’t be the same.
“I have never played her before, but in matches like that you would there is so much to gain from it so it’s something to embrace.
“I am a bit of a geek, I watch all the top players and try and learn from them and of course Serena is one of them.”
Much to everyone’s surprise, she had to play a lot better to beat Caroline Garcia in the first round. Much better. Hantuchova, 32, looked long past her best, dropping three serves in the first half of the final set as she let the Briton stroll through.
The first set was tighter, although Watson – despite three double faults – found the ruthless streak Court One knew she possesses. Wriggling free 6-4, she took control.
The pair exchanged breaks in the opening two games of the second set but after Watson broke Hantuchova again, in just the third game, her opponent fell to pieces. Constantly over-hitting, it let Watson ease into the third round with a lot to spare.
The Guernsey-born star added: “I think playing yesterday actually helped me. It’s not something that hindered me at all and I just want to keep playing.”
American Bethanie Mattek-Sands beat seventh-seeded Ana Ivanovic 6-3 6-4.
Mattek-Sands, ranked 158th in the world, played aggressive tennis and fired off 32 winners.
The American, who came through a qualifier, is yet to drop a set in the draw proper.