Watson inspired to win Japan Open Final after being overlooked for Olympic Mixed Dubs
Heather Watson admits that being overlooked by Andy Murray in favour of Laura Robson at the Olympics this summer helped her become the first British woman to win a WTA Tour title for 24 years.
Watson's friendly disposition masks a ruthless streak. And while her friendship with Robson has survived the frustration of not playing in the mixed doubles at the Olympics, in spite of having a higher doubles ranking, Watson used the experience to harden her.
'I wanted to play, it was the Olympics,' said Watson, whose triumph last weekend in the WTA tournament in Osaka, Japan, delivered British tennis another success story five weeks after Murray won the US Open championship. 'I think anyone in that position would have wanted that opportunity. But it was Andy's decision and he and Laura ended up winning a silver medal, and that was brilliant for the country.
'I was disappointed but it has made me stronger as a person, it's made me push harder.'
In Murray's defence, he was placed in an invidious position at the Olympics at Wimbledon.
Both women had a case to be co-opted by Murray; but his choice was coloured by the fact he had enjoyed a winning partnership with Robson in an Australian exhibition tournament.
At 20, Watson has risen this week to No 50 in the world, two places above Robson, who is two years younger.
Watson said: 'Off the court we are good friends but when it comes to the crunch, we are competitive. We are not going to be friends when we're playing. This is our job. At tournaments Laura will be with her team and I'll be with mine.'
Last month Robson missed her own chance to win a WTA title, when she was narrowly defeated by Su-Wei Hsieh in a final in Guangzhou, China.
'Knowing Laura got to a WTA final and didn't win, as soon as I got to that final I wanted to win so badly,' said Watson, who is having some rare time with parents Michelle and Ian at home in Guernsey.
'I always look to see how Laura is doing and she has been stronger since the Olympics, too. If she does well, I want to do better. It's very good that we push each other along.'
British tennis on the WTA seems to be making good progress!
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