Heather Watson believes she has finally found the recipe for tennis success – canoeing and playing with dogs.
The 26-year-old looks to have turned a corner in what was shaping up to be a thoroughly miserable season after reaching the final of a tournament in Vancouver and then coming through qualifying at the US Open.
Prior to her run in Vancouver two weeks ago, Watson had won just four of 20 tour matches dating back to January and plummeted well outside the top 100.
Watson said: “I’ve just really been focusing on myself, focusing on being happy.
“One thing I’ve been doing at tournaments is doing a lot of things off the court, so going to visit sights and just keeping social rather than just practice, going back to my hotel room, because it’s kept me really fresh, and I feel fresh and motivated for my next match.
“When it’s just tennis, bed, tennis, bed, you will get drained and you’ll get tired and you’ll just want to do home. But I haven’t felt the need to want to go home yet because I’ve just been happy with where I am and doing what I’m doing.
Watson’s extra-curricular activities included a sea swim in Vancouver and playing with her host family’s dog, while she was planning to watch a New York Mets baseball game on Saturday across the railway tracks from Flushing Meadows at Citi Field.
The most memorable outing – although not for the right reasons for her coach Morgan Phillips – was a canoeing trip in Canada.
“It was literally flat (water), I don’t know how he capsized, he’s the clumsiest person ever.”
Watson will hope for more smooth sailing in her first-round clash with Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova on Monday as she bids to win a first main-draw match in New York at the eighth time of asking.