Tennis-I was waiting for it, says Watson of long-awaited sweet 16

Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 1, 2022 Britain's Heather Watson celebrates winning her third round match against Slovenia's Kaja Juvan REUTERS/Matthew Childs

LONDON (Reuters) - Heather Watson seemed the least surprised of everyone at Wimbledon when she advanced to the last 16 of a Grand Slam for the first time on Friday, saying she would not still be playing if she thought she was destined never to make it.

Watson beat Slovenia's Kaja Juvan 7-6(6) 6-2 on Court One to advance to the fourth round for the first time in 43 attempts at the big four.

She began her quest in 2010 at Wimbledon, and though she came desperately close to beating Serena Williams in 2015, her best performance was reaching the third round three times. She got to the same stage once at the Australian Open but has never been past the second round at Roland Garros and, incredibly, has lost in the first round in all 10 U.S. Open appearances.

Asked if she thought her chances were over, the 30-year-old who is now ranked 121st and fourth in Britain said: "No chance. I wouldn't still be playing if I thought that ship had sailed.

"I've been in the third round quite a few times so I was just sort of waiting for it to happen. I waited long enough, I think, and did it in dramatic fashion."

Watson had looked to be cruising through as she led 5-0 in the second set but Juvan launched a fightback to take the next two games and had four break points for 5-3, only for Watson to regroup.

"Those last three games were so close, she raised her game and was coming up with some great shots," she said.

"I didn't really panic because I was thinking clearly and well aware that she had raised her level and I was prepared for that. I was surprisingly calm actually. I really believed that I was going to do it," she added.

"I'm just proud of myself for getting over the line."

(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Ed Osmond)

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