Jun 26 2012 By Colin Mackenzie
On a day when the British summer relented sufficiently to permit a full day's play at Wimbledon, Heather Watson's magical 6-2, 6-1 win over higher ranked Czech Iveta Benesova was the ray of sunshine British tennis was so eagerly seeking.
Astonishingly the gutsy girl from Guernsey was providing the first Centre Court victory for a British female since Jo Durie in 1985.
This was Britain's only win from five completed matches although newly acquired Aussie-born Joanna Konta, who is of Hungarian heritage but became a Brit a month ago, was agonisingly poised on 7-7 in the final set against the 28th seed Christina McHale and is clearly made of the right stuff. The match will be completed today.
Watson's delight was enjoyed by the Centre Court crowd who had hitherto been treated to two uncompetitive matches as Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova put away inferior opponents without breaking sweat.
There was a little more excitement when under achieving Latvian Ernests Gulbis decided to unveil his undoubted talent to defeat the 2010 finalist and sixth seed Tomas Berdych 7-6, 7-6, 7-6 in a pulsating match of big hitting.
This opens up the draw for former champion Roger Federer who began his campaign with a fluent demolition of Spaniard Albert Ramos, losing only one game in each set.
Watson's victory was both unexpected and unheralded as the match was put on the Centre Court only at 7.30pm and had not been scheduled there.
Happily it did not faze our latest hope - but it certainly got to her opponent who is not a lover of grass according to her post match tweet.
Watson, 20, ranked 51 places behind her opponent at 103 in the world, said; "I was pleased with how I played today. I was watching videos of my opponent playing so I was going in confident. I'd been practicing well.
"It was tough hanging around all day and not knowing what court we were going to be on but it worked out for the better. The Centre Court crowd was awesome, especially after I won. I kept getting the tingles and couldn't find my way off court. It's just an unbelievable feeling. I'm getting to this stage now and this is why I have been playing tennis all my whole life. It's for moments like these. It's just my dream."
Earlier Oliver Golding, still only 18 and the proud winner of the US Open junior championship ten months ago, put up a brave but ultimately unavailing fight against experienced Russian Igor Andreev who has been ranked as high as 18 in the world.
Golding, who has a massive serve for one so young, blew away his opponent 6-1 in the opening set but then proceeded to forfeit two tie breaks in succession before capitulating 7-5 in the fourth set.
He can be counted slightly unlucky as key line calls went against him.
He said; "I left everything out there on court but it just wasn't to be. I had my chances and I was a bit unlucky in the third set tie break. At 6-5 up I went for a second serve kicker and shanked it. But he's a great player and knows how to tough it out. I'll learn a lot from this."
Josh Goodall, who has been denied financial help from British tennis in recent years, also did himself justice losing in four sets to Slovenian Grega Zemlja 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 in a match of big serving.
Britain's No 4 male player will be back in the humbler environs of the Challenger circuit next week, happy to have pocketed nearly £15,000 as a first round loser at Wimbledon.
He said; "I was up in the third set tiebreak and double faulted at 4-4 which was a huge error. I was very happy to play on Court Three which had a good atmosphere. I am trying to get the money to put down a deposit on a house and this will help when compared with what I could earn next week. I have won eight tournaments and been in ten finals in the past year so I feel I am doing something right."
Naomi Broady put up a brave but unavailing fight against the Spaniard Lourdes Dominguez Lino, losing 6-4, 7-6. So, as usual, it will be left to Andy Murray to fly the flag for Britain today. He faces one time Russian No 1 Nikolay Davydenko who is a light of former years nowadays.
There was drama elsewhere yesterday as Venus Williams, who has been suffering from a debilitating virus, went out tamely to rising Russian Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-3.
She plans to play doubles with her sister Serena and said afterwards that she had every intention - even at 32 - of trying to return to her former glory.
Kim Clijsters, who is on her swansong tour and plans to retire for good after the US Open, showed she is no back number with a fluent 6-2, 6-4 win against flakey Serbian and former world No 1 Jelena Jankovic. It was as much Jankovic's nerves and erratic play that gifted Clijsters a relatively easy victory as her own undoubted racket skills.
Wimbledon remains as popular as ever with tennis fans, many of whom were camped out last night in adjacent fields, hoping to get onto Centre and No 1 courts today and tomorrow.
Like Royal Ascot Wimbledon has introduced stricter dress codes - but there was little evidence on the opening day that these were being enforced - off court at any rate.