'I felt like I was playing a servebot': Heather Watson exits Wimbledon to impressive Jule Niemeier

·26 min read
heather watson vs Jule Niemeier live score wimbledon centre court latest - GETTY IMAGES
heather watson vs Jule Niemeier live score wimbledon centre court latest - GETTY IMAGES

Following Roger Federer and a host of tennis legends onto Centre Court, Britain’s last surviving woman Heather Watson proved something of an anti-climax as she lost in straight sets to Germany’s Jule Niemeier.

Scheduled as the day’s opening match, Watson and Niemeier didn’t walk out until 2.25pm because of a special celebration to mark the 100th anniversary of this famous arena.

We saw some sepia-tinted videos, listened to chanteuse Freya Ridings, and cheered a stellar line-up of former champions – all topped off by a warbling “Summer Holiday” from Sir Cliff Richard. Only then was it time for some actual tennis.

To her credit, Watson declined to use any of this hoopla as an excuse. Asked whether she had been at all inhibited by the galaxy of stars watching from the Royal Box – who included Rod Laver, Stefan Edberg and Billie Jean King – she replied: “I didn't look up. I didn't see who was watching, so I don't know who exactly was there.”

As a newcomer to the Wimbledon stage, Niemaier lacked the pedigree of these celebrated spectators. She is 22, a player who had never even contested a grand slam match until six weeks ago. But her ferocious 116mph serve gave her the initiative in many rallies, and she kept her head even when Watson threatened a comeback by breaking at the start of the second set.

“I felt like I was playing against a servebot,” said Watson, using a term more often applied to towering male players such as John Isner or Kevin Anderson. “I was just trying to make as many returns as possible, holding onto my serve. It felt like more men's tennis today than women's.

“The points were just so quick. During my last match [against Kaja Juvan], there were so many epic points. Whereas I didn't feel like the rallies were long today at all. When I did get a ball in the middle of the court, it was so rare for that to happen that I had no rhythm.”

Niemeier seemed remarkably unflustered by the whole experience, despite the riches on offer. She is now guaranteed prizemoney of at least £310,000, which comfortably outstrips her previous career earnings of around £283,000.

“I just want to say sorry that I had to kick out a British player today,” Niemeier told on-court interviewer Rishi Persad. “I didn’t want to watch the show before the match because I was nervous. But as soon as I stepped on the court I felt pretty comfortable.”

An unfussy player, you could half imagine Niemeier holding a tankard at the Munich Oktoberfest. One of her key advisors is her doubles partner Andrea Petkovic – a 34-year-old who wrote a fine essay before the tournament lamenting the fact that she has never had the chance to play on Centre Court. One wonders whether Petkovic managed a rueful smile when her protégé ticked off this goal at her first attempt.

While Niemeier moves on to face compatriot Tatjana Maria in a quarter-final that no-one saw coming, Watson still has an interest in this tournament via her doubles partnership with Harriet Dart. She is feeling somewhat banged up, however, after a series of misadventures on this notoriously slippery surface.

“I've had so many falls,” she told reporters at her post-match press conference, standing up and stepping out from behind the desk to point at her legs. “I've got bruises everywhere. One of the slips I had against Juvan was that knee.

“But for this one” – she indicated a large contusion on the inside of her right calf – “I landed on my racket when I dove for the volley against Juvan at 6-5. Then I had two bruises on the inside of my knees where I slipped against Wang [whom she beat in the second round]. Yeah, my knees are pretty unstable right now.”

Watson and Niemeier may one day be the answer to a tricky quiz question: who played the first match on Centre Court on an official middle Sunday (as opposed to the four previous emergency Sundays which were forced by inclement weather)? But it will be Niemeier who remembers this unusual occasion with the greater fondness.

Heather Watson vs Jule Niemeier: as it happened

04:39 PM

Thanks for joining us

Disappoint for Watson today but she still has hopes in the doubles.

Recap her match below and stay with Telegraph Sport for continued coverage of Wimbledon.

04:27 PM

There is still British interest in Wimbledon

We may have lost Watson from Wimbledon but Cameron Norrie is doing his best to keep things going.

The British No 1 is a set up on Court 1 against American Tommy Paul.

And you can follow that match here!

Wimbledon - AP
Wimbledon - AP

04:19 PM

Up next for Niemeier?

Niemeier will play a fellow German in Tatjana Maria, who is into a major quarter-final for the first time at the age of 34.

04:04 PM

More from Neimeier

I was nervous - as soon as I stepped on the court I felt pretty confident so I just tried to focus on my game and play point by point. It went well.

I'm super proud of myself, after playing on Court One and playing a really good match two days ago and coming out again and performing without missing that many balls was pretty good so I'm really happy with today.

I didn't want to watch the show before the match because I was pretty nervous and I saw all the players I didn't want to see it. It's a special place, one of the biggest courts on tour, the court is so beautiful and I feel so proud to have won here."

03:55 PM

Niemeier reacts

I just want to say sorry that I had to kick out a British player today.

03:49 PM

Heather can be proud of her tournament

03:43 PM

Watson* 2-6, 4-6 Niemeier (*denotes next server)

Watson drive volley winner, 30-30. The crowd is up and backing her. Watson return into the net, match point Niemeier.

Watson digs deep, stays patient and Niemeier nets a forehand.

Second match point for Niemeier when Watson frames a forehand return long, she broke a string in fact.

Brilliant lob by Watson beats Niemeier, deuce. Watson volley goes wide, third match point.

GAME SET MATCH NIEMEIER. Watson nets a backhand for the final time and that's her Wimbledon over!

03:36 PM

Watson 2-6, 4-5 Niemeier* (*denotes next server)

Better service game from Watson as she moves to 40-15. And she holds when Niemeier nets a forehand return.

Must win game for Watson coming up.

Wimbledon - PA
Wimbledon - PA

03:34 PM

Analysis from Centre Court by Fiona Tomas

Centre Court has fallen a bit flat. Watson will be kicking herself for double faulting and gifting Niemeier a precious break to go 4-3 up before holding serve comfortably.

You can feel the nervous energy in the crowd, who are hanging off every Watson shot.

Niemeier looks in control. Big game for Watson coming up.

03:33 PM

Watson* 2-6, 3-5 Niemeier (*denotes next server)

Niemeier backhand into the net, 0-30. Niemeier hits back with a forehand winner, 30-30.

Niemeier holds to move within a game of the quarter-finals.

03:28 PM

Watson 2-6, 3-4 Niemeier* (*denotes next server)

Double fault by Watson, 0-30. Watson goes for a forehand down the line but just misses, 0-40.

Watson saves the first when Niemeier's lob drifts long. Second double fault of the game and Watson is broken.

Cue a lot of people leaving the court.

03:24 PM

Watson* 2-6, 3-3 Niemeier (*denotes next server)

Nice feel at the net from Watson with a drop volley winner, 0-15. Watson forehand long, 15-30. Brilliant volley on the stretch by Niemeier and the ball just eludes Watson, 40-30. But we go to deuce when a forehand by Niemeier goes long.

Ace from Niemeier to hold.

Wimbledon - AFP
Wimbledon - AFP

03:17 PM

Watson 2-6, 3-2 Niemeier* (*denotes next server)

Another tough service game for Watson as she is pushed to deuce by Niemeier. But she finds her first serve just in time and holds. Big cheers from the crowd.

03:10 PM

Watson* 2-6, 2-2 Niemeier (*denotes next server)

Normal service resumes for Niemeier as she hits another ace to hold to 15.

03:07 PM

Watson 2-6, 2-1 Niemeier* (*denotes next server)

Defensive backhand long by Watson, 0-30. Watson forehand winner, slightly mis-hit but it worked, 15-30.

Watson double fault, two break points. Watson forehand into the tramlines and Niemeier breaks straight back.

A really bad service game from Watson.

03:04 PM

Watson* 2-6, 2-0 Niemeier (*denotes next server)

BIG chance for Watson now as she moves to 0-40 with her best shot of the day, a forehand cross-court winner.

Niemeier saves the first with a lovely drop volley winner. Niemeier forehand long and Watson does break for the time.

Game on!

03:00 PM

Second Set: Watson 2-6, 1-0 Niemeier* (*denotes next server)

The crowd on Centre are tickled when umpire Kader Nouni announces in his unique voice that Watson is 40-0.

Someone in the crowd then pops a bottle of champagne just as Watson hits a double fault, 40-15.

Overhead winner by Niemeier catches the line and we are at deuce. Watson forehand winner after a big first serve to hold.

heather watson vs Jule Niemeier live score wimbledon centre court latest - REUTERS
heather watson vs Jule Niemeier live score wimbledon centre court latest - REUTERS

02:52 PM

Watson* 2-6 Niemeier (*denotes next server)

After the celebrations at the start, the mood has dampened as Watson drops the opening set in just 27 minutes.

Katie Boulter was beaten in 51 minutes yesterday...

02:49 PM

Watson 2-5 Niemeier* (*denotes next server)

Tame forehand into the net by Watson, 15-30. Superb lob by Niemeier over Watson's head, two more break points.

Watson saves the first when she bends down low and flicks a backhand into the open court. But not the second as another forehand error means Niemeier breaks again.

02:45 PM

Watson* 2-4 Niemeier (*denotes next server)

Excellent serving by Niemeier as she holds to 15 when Watson's forehand return flies long. A lot of groaning from the crowd.

02:42 PM

Watson 2-3 Niemeier* (*denotes next server)

Clever play by Niemeier to drag Watson forward and she flicks a volley into the open court, 15-30. Watson goes long with a forehand on the run, 15-40.

Deep Niemeier return and Watson nets a forehand. Early trouble for the Briton. Her opponent is playing very well.

heather watson vs Jule Niemeier live score wimbledon centre court latest - AFP
heather watson vs Jule Niemeier live score wimbledon centre court latest - AFP

02:39 PM

Watson* 2-2 Niemeier (*denotes next server)

Back-to-back love holds by Niemeier but we had one of the points of the tournament as Watson hustled brilliantly but Niemeier stays cool and places a backhand down the line for a winner.

02:37 PM

Watson 2-1 Niemeier* (*denotes next server)

First ace of the day from Watston at 107mph, 30-15. She then backs it up with an overhead winner.

And she holds after a Niemeier error.

02:32 PM

Watson* 1-1 Niemeier (*denotes next server)

Impressive service game from the German as she holds to love and showcases a bit of her power.

02:29 PM

First Set: Heather Watson 1-0 Jule Niemeier* (*denotes next server)

Ideal start for the Briton as she comes through a tough game and holds to 30.

This should be an even contest.

02:24 PM

After all that, we have a tennis match now...

Watson and Niemeier are now on the court and warming up.

Watson won the toss and will serve first!

02:23 PM


02:22 PM

The parade of champions

heather watson vs Jule Niemeier live score wimbledon centre court latest - SHUTTERSTOCK
heather watson vs Jule Niemeier live score wimbledon centre court latest - SHUTTERSTOCK
heather watson vs Jule Niemeier live score wimbledon centre court latest - WIRE IMAGE
heather watson vs Jule Niemeier live score wimbledon centre court latest - WIRE IMAGE
heather watson vs Jule Niemeier live score wimbledon centre court latest - AP
heather watson vs Jule Niemeier live score wimbledon centre court latest - AP

02:14 PM

Another huge ovation for Barker

Barker looked a bit overwhelmed, probably on the verge of tears as McEnroe goes off script and reminds the crowd that this will be here last year as a presenter for the BBC.

A wonderful moment as the crowd stands to applaud Barker.

02:11 PM

Spine-tingling moment

02:10 PM

More from Federer

I've been lucky enough to play a lot of matches on this court. It feels awkward to be here today in a different type of role. It's great to be here with all the other champions. This court has given me my biggest wins and my biggest losses.

I hope I can come back one more time. I've missed it here. I knew walking out here last year, it was going to be a tough year ahead. I maybe didn't think it was going to take this long to come back - the knee has been rough on me. It's been a good year regardless of tennis. We're happy at home. I didn't know if I should make the trip but I'm happy standing here right now.

Wimbledon - REUTERS
Wimbledon - REUTERS

02:05 PM

Five-time singles champs

02:04 PM

Who was absent?

Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Jimmy Connors, Ashleigh Barty, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Steffi Graf.

02:03 PM

'I hope I can be back here one more time'

Roger Federer insists he hopes to return in a playing capacity to Wimbledon.

02:00 PM

Applause ratings by Jeremy Wilson on Centre Court

An individual welcome for the former champions...

Respectful welcome for Margaret Court (John McEnroe is among those who wants Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne renamed)

- Notably loud cheers for Pat Cash, Martina Hingis, Goran Ivanisovic and Stefan Edberg.

- Raptuous applause for Rafael Nadal, Chris Evert, Novak Djojovic and Rod Laver.

- Roof raised for Bjorn Bjorg, Venus Williams, Billie Jean King and Andy Murray.

- And a standing ovation for the greatest of the men - Roger Federer.

01:58 PM

Centre Court erupts

The final person brought out is eight-time champion Roger Federer.

He gets an incredible reception.

01:53 PM

Rod Laver, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Chris Evert


01:50 PM

Parade of champions

We are now getting a parade of former singles champions.

Stan Smith, Pat Cash, Martina Hingis, Goran Ivanišević, Marion Bartoli and many more!

01:47 PM

Tiger Tim is here

Former British No 1 and perennial Wimbledon semi-finalist Tim Henman is on the court now and reliving his memories on Centre with Barker and McEnroe.

heather watson vs Jule Niemeier live score wimbledon centre court latest - AFP
heather watson vs Jule Niemeier live score wimbledon centre court latest - AFP

01:44 PM

Cliff Richard has arrived for a sing song

As Barker and McEnroe walk around inside Centre Court, Sir Cliff Richard burst in and starts singing 'we're all going on a summer holiday'.


01:37 PM

Latest update from Centre Court via Jeremy Wilson

Real sense of occasion on Centre Court ahead of the big ceremony of legends to mark 100 years of the most famous arena in tennis. Some controversy too at the presence of Margaret Court, the 79-year-old winner of a still all-time record 24 grand slam titles.

Her views on same sex marriage and LGBT rights have led to calls for the main arena at Melbourne, which is named after her, to be renamed.

Wimbledon - GETTY IMAGES
Wimbledon - GETTY IMAGES

01:36 PM

Sue Barker and John McEnroe open the show

Tremendous ovation for Barker and McEnroe as they walk onto a packed Centre Court.

The show is under way.

01:31 PM

'I am gutted I can’t be there'

One person that sadly won't be here is Martina Navratilova.

Navratilova, who has won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 31 major women's doubles titles, and 10 major mixed doubles titles, for a combined total of 59 major titles, has tested positive for Covid.

01:17 PM

Centenary celebrations

Today will see a centre court centenary celebration occur to mark 100 years of Centre Court in its current location.

Guests from the local community will be present in addition to some of the Covid-19 heroes in the NHS and social care.

Refugees from Ukraine, Afghanistan and Syria who have settled in Merton and Wandsworth will also be present for the celebrations, which start at 1.30pm.

Wimbledon - PA
Wimbledon - PA

01:09 PM

Early break for Goffin

An interesting match is under way on Court 2 between David Goffin and Frances Tiafoe. The former broke serve in the first game and leads 2-0.

The winner of that match will play either Cameron Norrie and Tommy Paul.

12:51 PM

Take a look at Bouzkova's win...

Bouzkova has reached a slam quarter-final for the first time with a straight set win over Garcia.

Take a look here at how she did it:

12:44 PM

Elsewhere in Wimbledon...

In the men's doubles Cabal and Farah lead Basilashvili and Albot 6-1, 6-6-4, 2-2.

Also in the men's doubles Glasspool and Heliovaara are in a 4-6, 6-7 (6-8) deficit to Pavic and Mektic.

Over in the women's doubles Hao-ching and Aoyama and Riske-Amritraj and Vandeweghe are all square. 6-4, 4-6, 0-0 the current score in that one.

12:39 PM

Bouzkova reacts

Bouzkova was emotional in her post-match interview after reaching her first grand slam quarter-final.

She said on-court:

I don't know what to say right now. I'm soaking in this moment. Thank you for your support. I don't know how I got here, I just played point by point.

To be in the quarter-final is a dream.

You try and believe in yourself, you have a great team behind but you never know if you're going to make it one day... It's an amazing moment.

12:35 PM

Bouzkova advances to quarter-finals

Bouzkova has expertly dispatched of Garcia 7-5, 6-2

The Czech player stormed to the lead in the first set and managed to quell a comeback from her French opponent to go a set up.

She then broke Garcia twice in the second to confirm her spot in the last 8.

12:30 PM

Centre court as you've never seen it

It's a celebration day for centre court as Wimbledone celebrates its 100th anniversary since its introduction at the event.

In honour of the anniversary Wimbledon have given fans a look into the court that they haven't seen before:

12:24 PM

Bouzkova breaks Garcia

Everything was even in the second set in the women's singles but Bouzkova has just broke Garcia to go 3-2 up in the second.

The Czech star looks in prime position to close out this match now after taking the first set 7-5.

12:22 PM

Norrie on opponent

Norrie will take on Tommy Paul in the fourth round later today and he has described the upcoming match as a "battle".

“There’s no easy guys out there," the British No 1 said. "Tommy won really comfortably (against Jiri Vesely in round three). He seems really locked in, and he really likes the grass. It’s going to be really tough regardless if the draw is open or not. At the end of the day, I’ll take it again.

“We’ve actually practised maybe two or three times already here at Wimbledon. We know each other’s game very well. Good friends off the court. But we’re going to both leave that aside and it’s going to be a battle, for sure.”

12:13 PM

Day 7 so far in pictures

There have been some spectacular tennis and surprise attendances already on day 7 at the All England club.

Take a look:

Bouzkova hits the ball
Bouzkova hits the ball
Roger Federer arrives at Wimbledon
Roger Federer arrives at Wimbledon
Crowds queuing for Wimbledon tickets
Crowds queuing for Wimbledon tickets

12:06 PM

Updates around Wimbledon

So as Bouzkova and Garcia get their second set underway, with the former taking the first, let's take a look at the other matches.

In the women's doubles Riske-Amritraj and Vandeweghe are staging a comeback after Hao-ching and Aoyama took the first set 6-4. The American pair are currently 2-0 up in the second.

While in the men's doubles it's 3-3 in the second set between Cabal and Farah and Basilashvili and Albot with the former taking the first 6-1.

12:01 PM

Bouzkova takes first set

Bouzkova has fought off a strong fight back from Garcia to take the first set 7-5!

The latest game saw the Czech player volley to ball over Garcia's head in one of many great shots in this match.

All is not lost for the Frenchwoman but the momentum is with Bouzkova as things stand.

11:50 AM

Garcia fights back

Garcia was down 4-2 against Bouzkova but she broke her opponent and won her service games to take the first set to 5-5.

Bouzkova won her latest service game to level the playing field but the Frenchwoman has definitely grown into this one.

Garcia hits the ball
Garcia hits the ball

11:46 AM

All the drama!

It's safe to say there's no love lost between Tsitsipas and Kyrgios after their heated match yesterday.

They continued to sling mud off the court in the post-match interviews, have a look:

11:41 AM

Scores on the doors

Many matches have already began!

Bouzkova is 4-3 up over Garcia in the women's singles with the latter building into the match.

Cabal and Farah lead Basilashvili and Albot 6-1 in the men's doubles, the second set just starting in that one.

And Hao-ching and Aoyama lead Riske-Amritraj and Vandeweghe 5-3 in the women's doubles.

11:37 AM

Federer in the house!

He may not be playing but Federer can't keep away from Wimbledon!

The star has been spotted on his way in to view the action, all eyes on the royal box! Be on Federer watch if you are in centre court, the king has arrived.

11:31 AM

Play underway on day 7

Bouzkova and Garcia are underway in the women's singles fourth round with the former 3-2 ahead in the first set.

11:29 AM

Watson on her opponent

Watson has praised her German opponent Niemeier ahead of their last 16 match.

"She's a good player, really, really good player," Watson said of world number 97 Niemeier.

"Rankings, honestly, I don't care what anybody's rankings are. Everybody's good.

"When I played her [in Monterrey] she was outside the top 100. I remember saying to my team, 'This girl will be in the top 100 in no time'. It'll be a hard match."

Heather Watson hitting a shot 
Heather Watson hitting a shot

11:16 AM

Greatness never stops...

Is it Wimbledon without Roger Federer? The legend of centre court isn't competing this year due to injury but he has featured on a promotional video for Wimbledon.

11:09 AM

Wimbledon celebrations

There will be a celebration on centre court to celebrate 100 years of the court and the BBC have confirmed there will be music, surprises and more from 1.30pm.

Could there be appearances from the court's greats like Federer? We will have to wait and see.

11:00 AM

Full last 16 matches

There are last 16 matches running today and tomorrow at the All England club.

The Brits take to the court this afternoon with stars like Rafael Nadal will compete tomorrow.

10:54 AM

A shock result

Watson will be targeting her first Wimbledon quarter-final today and her route to the grand slam trophy has been made slightly easier as favourite Iga Swiatek was knocked out yesterday.

Swiatek lost to Alize Cornet to end her 37-match winning streak. The upset has also blown the women's singles competition wide open with Serena Williams also out of the running.

Iga Swiatek after losing at Wimbledon
Iga Swiatek after losing at Wimbledon

10:45 AM

Nadal apologises

Rafael Nadal looked agitated in his last set against Lorenzo Sonego and the pair had what looked like a heated discussion after the match.

Nadal, who won in straight sets, has now said sorry, saying: "I should not call him [to] the net.

"I have to say that I was wrong. So apologise for that. My mistake in that. No problem. I recognise that."

Nadal will play Botic van de Zandschulp tomorrow in the last 16.

10:36 AM

Watson to face Niemeier

Watson is through to the last 16 for the first time in her 12th Wimbledon, while Niemeier has reached the round in just her second main draw appearance.

It will be a tricky match and all eyes will be on Watson with her the last Brit in the women's singles competition.

10:22 AM

Morning after the night before

Many tennis fans are still talking about the heated battle between Nick Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas last night.

Both players were given a warning by the umpire and some harsh words were exchanged post-match.

Tsitsipas called the Australian a "bully" and said he had and "evil" side to him.

"Yeah, it's constant bullying, that's what he does. He bullies opponents. He was probably a bully at school himself. I don't like bullies," Tsitsipas said.

"I don't like people that put other people down. He has some good traits in his character, as well. But he also has a very evil side to him, which if it's exposed, it can really do a lot of harm and bad to the people around him."

Kyrgios fired back and said: "He's soft. We're not cut from the same cloth. If you're affected by that today, that's what's holding him back."

Here's one of the cracking shots that Kyrgios made to defeat his opponent:

10:13 AM

Full order of play

There will be so much action at today's Wimbledon, particularly on centre court where they are celebrating 100 years of the court.

Centre court was first introduced to Wimbledon in 1922. It's not clear if they have any particular events in place but the tennis will be more than enough to thrill fans.

10:04 AM

Regular Sunday play at Wimbledon

The round of 16 commences today at Wimbledon with British hopefuls looking to further their historic tournament.

Both Heather Watson and Cameron Norrie are in action, both of whom have never reached this stage of the slam before.

Watson, who reached the women's doubles last 16 with a victory with partner Harriet Dart on Saturday, will take on Germany's Jule Niemeier on centre court from 1.30pm.

The 30-year-old has spoken on the affect the gruelling schedule at Wimbledon is having on her this year. Ahead of her doubles match last night, she told the BBC:  "Honestly I'm not coping very well any more. I got less than four hours sleep last night and they've scheduled me tonight not before 6pm for doubles. I think they're trying to kill me here to be honest."

Watson is playing in her 12th Wimbledon this year and will look to further her impressive and ground-breaking slam this afternoon. Norrie is the other Brit in action and he will take to court 1, expected at 2.15pm, where he will face American Tommy Paul.

To reach the last 16 he knocked out Paul's compatriot Steve Johnson and he said he loved every minute of it. "Being the British number one, playing on Centre Court, being in the spotlight and playing to that level that I did, was a lot of fun," he told the BBC. "I embraced it and really enjoyed it."

Another headline match on Centre Court will see defending champion Novak Djokovic compete against Dutch player Tim van Rijthoven. The Dutch player has been a breakout star at the tournament and will be aiming to cause an upset when he faces the Serb later today.

The world No 104 was given a wildcard for the event and it will be his first time playing Djokovic. “Before the tournament started, it was a dream for me to play him basically," he said.

And before the tournament began he spoke of the possibility of playing on Centre Court: "To be able to have that chance [of playing Djokovic] and to maybe even play on Centre Court or Court 1 is beautiful and magical.”