Heather Watson is more than capable of going deeper into the main draw at Wimbledon after reaching the fourth round for the first time in her career, says Eurosport tennis expert Mats Wilander.
The Brit produced an emphatic 7-6(6) 6-2 win over Slovenian Kaja Juvan and sunk to her knees in elation after reaching the fourth round for the first time in a major.
Wilander believes the 30-year-old can still achieve “something big” in the latter years of her tennis career.
“It’s surprising that she hasn’t been there [the fourth round] before and expected because she’s a good player,” he said.
“She can play on all the different surfaces. She probably prefers to play here at home and she can go further as well.
“It’s great to see she has put in so much hard work over the years and has always been talked about as a potentially great player. It’s not too late for her to do something big in tennis.”
Wilander thinks Watson is the favourite to beat Germany’s Jule Niemeier in their fourth round clash.
He added: “When you dig into why she hasn’t got into the fourth round in majors is it that she has struggled against the players that she is supposed to beat.
“You would say against Niemeier she is probably the favourite because she’s on grass and has the crowd with her. But it also puts a lot of pressure on her from herself more than anybody.
“She will think that it is a chance of a lifetime so I do think she will win that match. It’s obviously a tricky tie when you play somebody that you should beat.”
Barbara Schett also backed Watson to continue her Wimbledon journey against the German.
“I think Heather Watson has so much self confidence at the moment that she can pretty much beat anybody or get anybody into trouble,” she said.
“She also has more experience on the grass court and I think at the end of the day, the crowd is going to be behind her.
“Jule Neimeier, I’m not 100% sure how her fitness level is. I’ve spoken to her coach and she’s probably a little bit tired already.
“We’ll see how she bounces back, but Heather Watson has to be ready for big serves big forehands for the slice, but there’s nothing in Neimeier’s game Heather Watson can’t cope with.”
Speaking in her post-match press conference, Watson – who has won four WTA tour singles titles in her career – believes her confidence builds the further she gets into a tournament.
“I actually think the further I get in a tournament, the more relaxed I get because my confidence builds,” she told reporters.
“I’m proud of myself for getting to that point in the first place. I think that shows in my results; the deeper I get in a tournament, the better I do. So, yeah, I was very calm coming in today.
“I lost to Juvan in the US Open at the end of last year so I know how well she can play. She’s a very crafty player, has pretty much everything: great hands, slices, comes to the net. We’re quite similar in that sense.
I think it’s because I respect all the players on tour. I know how well everyone can play on their day. And the depth in the women’s game… That just keeps me level-headed.”