sport

Watson's special inspiration

Heather Watson admits she has special motivation to continue her good form into the French Open.

The British No 2 won her eighth consecutive match with a 6-1 6-1 demolition of Estonian Anett Kontaveit in the final round of qualifying at Roland Garros, but it has been a poignant week for British tennis after the funeral of Elena Baltacha on Monday.

Watson was a Fed Cup team-mate of the former British No 1, who died from liver cancer earlier this month.

"It's so sad. You don't really believe it that you'll never see her again. Her funeral was on my birthday and lots of the girls sent me messages. Laura (Robson) was there, Judy (Murray) was there.

"I'm just using it as motivation that life is short, you don't know when it's going to be your last so just make the most of every day.

"She was so feisty on the court. I can picture her now saying, 'Come on'. I just can't believe she's not here any more."

Watson faces Czech world No 63 Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, with fourth seed Simona Halep likely to lie in wait for the winner.

Her second title of the season in Prague last weekend lifted Watson back into the top 100 after a miserable 2013 which saw her plummet from a career-high 39 in the rankings due to a lack of fitness and confidence.

Opportunity

"Twelve months ago I really wasn't enjoying my tennis," she added. "I wasn't winning much at all and now I'm playing the best tennis of my career and I'm loving it.

"I'm not getting tired. I've played so many matches in a row and I'm taking nothing for granted. Every match is an opportunity. I'm just really enjoying it; I'm enjoying matches, practice, stretching after and the physio - all of it."

Key to her success has been Watson's new-found commitment to attacking tennis, helped by Argentinian coach Diego Veronelli.

"Before, even when I reached my highest ranking, I was a kind of a counter-puncher," she said.

"On important points I'd wait for my opponent to miss or hope for them to miss, now as soon as I see a short ball I want to win the point.

"Looking at my stats usually I would make less unforced errors and less winners and now it's the other way round.

"I'll be making more unforced errors but I'm also hitting more winners and it's a lot more fun playing this way. It's exhausting running all over the place. It's nice being in control and being the captain of your ship."