At the eve of the 2020 Australian Open, Heather Watson has mentioned her courting with the Yeovil The city footballer, Courtney Duffus, has remodeled her occupation – and her existence.

Watson, who arrived in Melbourne on Saturday contemporary from a run to the semi-finals in Hobart, performs Kristyna Pliskova on Tuesday. There are harder potentialities past that during 1 / 4 of the draw that incorporates 6th seed Belinda Bencic, Donna Vekic (No 19), Aryna Sabalenka – who gave international #1 Ashleigh Barty a just right argument within the Adelaide ultimate on Saturday – and, nearer to her phase, the completed Belgian Elise Mertens.

None of which fazes her, which is in marked distinction to her temper and disposition right here a yr in the past when she went out within the first spherical after profitable most effective 3 video games in opposition to Petra Martic.

However her existence and her tennis modified when she met Duffus – a 24-year-old striker who has performed for the Republic of Eire at under-21 stage – and his brother whilst she was once on an evening out with Naomi Broady right through Wimbledon final summer season.

Seeds in daring, seedings in brackets

Ashleigh Barty (Aus, 1) v Lesia Tsurenko (Ukr)
Polona Hercog (Svn) v Rebecca Peterson (Swe)
Aliaksandra Sasnovich (Blr) v qualifier
Bernarda Pera (US) v Elena Rybakina (Kaz, 29)
Alison Riske (US, 18)
v Yafan Wang (Chn)
Viktorija Golubic (Swi) v Lin Zhu (Chn)
Julia Goerges (Ger) v Viktoria Kuzmova (Svk)
Christina McHale (US) v Petra Martic (Cro, 13)
Madison Keys (US, 10)
v Daria Kasatkina (Rus)
Magda Linette (Pol) v Arantxa Rus (Neth)
Qualifier v Shuai Peng (Chn)
Margarita Gasparyan (Rus) v Maria Sakkari (Gre, 22)
Ekaterina Alexandrova (Rus, 25)
v Jil Belen Teichmann (Swi)
Kaia Kanepi (Est) v qualifier
Paula Badosa Gibert (Sp) v qualifier
Katerina Siniakova (Cz) v Petra Kvitova (Cz, 7)
Naomi Osaka (Jpn, 3) v Marie Bouzkova (Cz)
Saisai Zheng (Chn) v qualifier
Venus Williams (US) v Coco Gauff (US)
Sorana Cirstea (Rom) v Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (Cz, 32)
Sloane Stephens (US, 24)
v Shuai Zhang (Chn)
Samantha Stosur (Aus) v qualifier
Qualifier v Lizette Cabrera (Aus)
Qualifier v Sofia Kenin (US, 14)
Johanna Konta (GB, 12)
v Ons Jabeur (Tun)
Madison Brengle (US) v Caroline Garcia (Fr)
Kristie Ahn (US) v Caroline Wozniacki (Den)
Qualifier v Dayana Yastremska (Ukr, 23)
Qiang Wang (Chn, 27)
v Pauline Parmentier (Fr)
Fiona Ferro (Fr) v Alison Van Uytvanck (Bel)
Tamara Zidansek (Svn) v Na-Lae Han (Kor)
Anastasia Potapova (Rus) v Serena Williams (US, 8)
Belinda Bencic (Swi, 6)
v Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (Svk)
Qualifier v Jelena Ostapenko (Lat)
Sara Sorribes Tormo (Sp) v Veronika Kudermetova (Rus)
Astra Sharma (Aus) v Anett Kontaveit (Est, 28)
Donna Vekic (Cro, 19)
v Maria Sharapova (Rus)
Alize Cornet (Fr) v qualifier
Iga Swiatek (Pol) v Timea Babos (Hun)
Carla Suarez Navarro (Sp) v Aryna Sabalenka (Blr, 11)
Elise Mertens (Bel, 16)
v Danka Kovinic (Mon)
Kristyna Pliskova (Cze) v Heather Watson (GB)
Catherine Cartan Bellis (US) v Tatjana Maria (Ger)
Kirsten Flipkens (Bel) v Karolina Muchova (Cz, 20)
Danielle Collins (US, 26)
v Vitalia Diatchenko (Rus)
Yulia Putintseva (Kaz) v Su-Wei Hsieh (Tpe)
Qualifier v Misaki Doi (Jpn)
Jennifer Brady (US) v Simona Halep (Rom, 4)
Elina Svitolina (Ukr, 5)
v Katie Boulter (GB)
Lauren Davis (US) v qualifier
Garbine Muguruza (Sp) v qualifier
Ajla Tomljanovic (Aus) v Anastasija Sevastova (Lat, 31)
Amanda Anisimova (US, 21)
v Zarina Diyas (Kaz)
Jasmine Paolini (It) v Anna Blinkova (Rus)
Kateryna Bondarenko (Ukr) v Anastasia Rodionova (Aus)
Irina-Camelia Begu (Rom) v Kiki Bertens (Neth, 9)
Marketa Vondrousova (Cz, 15)
v Svetlana Kuznetsova (Rus)
Qualifier v Camila Giorgi (It)
Kateryna Kozlova (Ukr) v Priscilla Hon (Aus)
Qualifier v Angelique Kerber (Ger, 17)
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Rus, 30)
v Nina Stojanovic (Ser)
Taylor Townsend (US) v Jessica Pegula (US)
Laura Siegemund (Ger) v Coco Vandeweghe (US)
Kristina Mladenovic (Fr) v Karolina Pliskova (Cz, 2)

“She was once staying with me in London and he had the weekend off so he was once in London along with his brother [Tyrone, who plays for Cardiff City] and we simply met in a cafe, ready on the bar for our desk,” Watson mentioned on Sunday. “They had been there. The very first thing they did was once purchase us pictures … it was once just right amusing.”

Watson, now not an enormous soccer fan however now an avid follower of Yeovil, had no thought who he was once, even supposing he recognised her. “I discovered that out later within the night time so I used to be, like, ‘Needless to say, now not going so far him. No longer going there.’ At that level of my existence I had no real interest in boys. I believed they had been the worst.”

“I didn’t desire a boyfriend for a protracted, very long time so for me it simply going to be a amusing night time. Great meal, meet anyone new after which that’s it. He had different plans. He requested to fulfill up the following day. I mentioned, ’Sorry I’m busy, I’m going to a pool celebration with my pals.’”

“On Boxing Day we went along with his circle of relatives and he scored a hat-trick, in order that was once superior. He simply is going house and spends it along with his circle of relatives when he’s were given time without work – the other of what I believed a footballer was once.”

As skilled athletes, they have got every realized extra about every different’s running lives, and Watson was once struck by means of how a lot tougher tennis gamers paintings than footballers.

“They don’t educate just about up to we do,” she mentioned. “It’s a just right existence. And I’ve realized that there’s numerous politics in soccer, truly sophisticated. You simply bring to mind it as a workforce in opposition to a workforce, need to win, however there’s lot of various issues. And their season’s simply so long as ours.”

In a much broader context, Watson is at peace with herself – which has now not at all times been the case.

“It’s implausible the distinction between how I used to be final yr and the way I’m this yr,” she mentioned. “Simply in existence generally, I believe in an excellent position. I’ve been enjoying truly just right tennis. I’m glad off and on the courtroom and simply taking part in my time in Australia up to now.”

So is Harriet Dart, who didn’t drop a collection in 3 qualifying suits to earn every other position in the principle draw, in opposition to the Jap international No80, Misaki Doi; if the Londoner will get previous her, she is going to nearly definitely play fourth seed Simona Halep, who starts her match on Tuesday in opposition to the American Jennifer Brady, ranked 49.

Harriet Dart is back in the main draw in Melbourne a year on from losing 6-0, 6-0 to Maria Sharapova.

Harriet Dart is again in the principle attract Melbourne a yr on from dropping 6-0, 6-Zero to Maria Sharapova. {Photograph}: Rob Prange/Rex/Shutterstock

Whilst Watson is a soccer convert, Dart has lengthy been a willing Arsenal supporter, and they have got each wrestled with their feelings every now and then. Dart spoke on Sunday about her common verbal exchange with a sports activities psychologist, Chris Bradley, who has labored with a number of elite athletes, from Sheffield United to gamers on each tennis excursions.

She will have executed with him right here a yr in the past, when Maria Sharapova inflicted a double bagel on her within the first spherical. Dart bounced again to succeed in the 3rd spherical at Wimbledon, dropping closely to Barty on Centre Court docket, simply after the Australian had gained the French Open. Qualifying for the United States Open for the primary time was once every other encouraging milestone.

Dart, enjoying higher this week than her rating of 164 may point out, mentioned: “It’s roughly bizarre coming again right here. I undoubtedly assume my feelings were given the easier of me within the [Sharapova] fit, enjoying on a large area for the primary time.”

“On the other hand, I’ve had 3 suits in qualifying. And I’ve simply were given to understand that I deserve my position right here this yr. Particularly behind final yr, with Wimbledon, the United States Open, I grew so much. My tennis is bettering, so it’s simply with the ability to put it into suits.”

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