Watson happy with form

  • Last Updated: July 26 2012, 19:25 BST

Heather Watson has already packed plenty of ups and downs into 2012 but she goes into the Olympics as the British number one and heading firmly in the right direction.

Heather Watson: Delighted to be at London 2012

The 20-year-old broke into the top 100 last year but her progress stalled at the beginning of this season as she struggled with an ankle injury that severely dented her confidence.

Watson did not win a main draw match on the WTA Tour until March in Miami, where victories over top-50 players Sorana Cirstea and Lucie Safarova proved the turning point.

She subsequently came through qualifying at the French Open and reached the second round for the second straight year, before becoming the first British woman for a decade to make the third round at Wimbledon.

She lost heavily to eventual finalist Agnieszka Radwanska but the points she picked up helped her climb inside the top 80 for the first time, and first-round victories at the recent events in Stanford and Carlsbad saw her leap to 67th and overtake Anne Keothavong as British number one.

Watson said: "At the beginning of the year it was really tough for me with my ankle injury. I just wasn't enjoying my tennis because I wasn't winning any matches. It was probably the worst I have been in my tennis career.

"So to be here now and climbing the ladder and playing well again, I am just really happy. I could not have hoped for anything more."

Watson will fancy her chances of winning at least one round back on the Wimbledon grass at the Olympic tournament, which starts on Saturday, after being drawn against Spain's Silvia Soler Espinosa in the first round.

Of the three British women in the singles draw, Keothavong has by far the toughest task against eighth seed and former world number one Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.

The tournament is particularly special for the 29-year-old, who grew up in the Olympic borough of Hackney and had made qualifying for the Games a major priority.

Keothavong said: "Obviously when it was confirmed that I would be part of this British team I was over the moon. This is something all of us have worked so hard towards and have all wanted to be part of.

"And growing up in Hackney and seeing all the changes there, that's something really special and hopefully there will be some legacy there too.

"At your first Olympics there's a lot to take in. It's been great meeting some of the other athletes from the other sports and hopefully we can all do well."

Elena Baltacha will meet Hungary's Agnes Szavay in the first round, and, like Watson, she should have high hopes of progress, with Szavay having played only one match in more than a year because of a back injury.

The Scot is continuing her family's Olympic journey, with father Sergei a bronze medal winner as part of the USSR football team in Moscow in 1980.

Baltacha's mother Olga was selected for the same Games in the pentathlon but could not compete because she had to look after son Sergei Jr.

"My mum is really thrilled for me that I got my spot," said Baltacha, 29. "She is really looking forward to coming down. My dad will just stay at home and follow it on the TV.

"He said the Olympics was probably the most amazing experience he's ever had in his life.

"He showed me pictures but he just said it was unbelievable, and to be part of something that big is such a special occasion. He's so proud that I've managed to get my spot here.

"He said: 'Just try to experience everything that you can while you're in it. It will be something you'll never forget. It will stay with you for the rest of your life."'

Andy Murray is the only British player seeded at the Olympics but he was handed an extremely tough draw in the first round of the men's singles.

The third seed will meet world number 26 Stanislas Wawrinka, who won doubles gold with Roger Federer in Beijing four years ago and will carry Switzerland's flag at tomorrow's opening ceremony, while he is in the same half as second seed Novak Djokovic.

Giving his reaction, British team leader Paul Hutchins said: "Andy has been practising with Wawrinka all week, so they will certainly know each other well.

"It's a tough draw, but Andy is the seeded player and will be looking to do very well here. It's a tough draw for both players."

Murray and brother Jamie meet Austrian pair Jurgen Melzer and Alexander Peya in the opening round of the men's doubles, while fellow British duo Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins face Frenchmen Richard Gasquet and Julien Benneteau.

In the women's doubles, Watson and Laura Robson were handed a tough draw against fifth seeds Angelique Kerber and Sabine Lisicki of Germany, with Baltacha and Keothavong meeting another German pair, Julia Goerges and Anna-Lena Gronefeld.