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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 June, 2005, 07:17 GMT 08:17 UK
O'Donoghue upbeat for Dechy clash
By Scarlett Elworthy
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Jane O'Donoghue
O'Donoghue: "I've a mountain to climb, but I'll give it my best shot."
For someone who is carrying the hopes of British women at Wimbledon, Jane O'Donoghue appears extremely relaxed.

The Wigan 22-year-old is the lone home survivor through to round two in the women's draw and faces Nathalie Dechy on Thursday for a place in round three.

The French 16th seed towers 214 places above O'Donoghue in the world rankings and the odds are stacked against her.

But the British number three is eager for the challenge as she seeks to put a tough 12 months behind her.

Over the past year, O'Donoghue has failed to build on her performance at the 2004 All England Club, when she reached the second round before losing 6-3 6-3 to Magui Serna of Spain.

She also split from long-time coach Nick Brown in September and a lack of money meant she was forced to travel the Challenger circuit alone.

"I must admit the last year has been terrible," O'Donoghue told BBC Sport.

"After Wimbledon I had a few opportunities to make a move, but I lost a lot of tight matches which cost me dearly and I started to lose confidence.

"I had the opportunity to work with a (pool) coach at the LTA, but I wasn't comfortable doing that, so I've had to do a lot of travelling on my own.

"But the hardest thing is going to tournaments and there isn't anyone there with you and trying to find someone to warm up with before you step on the match court."

Nathalie Dechy

However, with the help of new coach Phil Fowler - who she linked up with full-time about two months ago - O'Donoghue believes she is finally turning a corner.

"Nick and I separated on good terms but I just had to work with someone who could give me a bit more time," she said.

"Now I'm with Phil and I'm very happy. He works with me every day and he's pushing me. He's got me believing in myself and my game again.

"I'm also trying to learn from the mistakes I made last year and getting a better schedule together because I made a few errors playing on the wrong surface at the wrong time, that sort of thing."

As a sign of her new positive thinking, O'Donoghue hailed Tuesday's battling 1-6 6-1 6-4 first-round win over Germany's Anna-Lena Gronefeld as the "best result of her career".

She was further boosted by her progression to the second round of the women's doubles with British number one Baltacha on Wednesday.

And now, in the shape and form of Dechy, feels she is "taking another step up".

"Dechy is a tough player at the top of her game," she said.

"You are not ranked the world number 18 for no reason. I have a huge mountain to climb, but I'll be ready to give it my best shot."

Something else has changed too.

In the build-up to this year's Wimbledon, O'Donoghue admits the media took little interest in either her preparations or her chances.

O'Donoghue celebrates after her 2004 first-round victory over Lindsay Lee-Waters of USA
Hopes were high for Jane after her Wimbledon 2004 performance

But by day three of the championships, every British journalist and TV channel wanted a word.

"Leading up to the tournament, I've hardly done anything (in terms of press work). I've kept a low profile, but now that I am the only British girl to have won (in the singles) people are taking a bit more notice."

O'Donoghue also hopes the LTA will now pay her more attention too.

"If I could get more support financially to actually say to my coach 'Can you come away with me at least once a month?' I mean, it sounds very little, but at least there would be somebody watching my matches," she said.

"The LTA, you know, just because you have a little dip, maybe sometimes they are not interested."

O'Donoghue enjoyed a glamorous debut at Wimbledon in 2002 - playing America's Venus Williams on the Centre Court in the first round and putting up a better fight than the 6-1 6-1 scoreline indicated.

But she insists she is excited about the prospect of squaring up to Dechy on Court Two - the 'graveyard of the seeds'.

"I've been on Centre Court before and, of course. you always want to get back there. But it's fantastic that I'm on Court Two and I'll settle for that," she said.

O'Donoghue admits she never expected to be the last British woman still standing in SW19, but does not feel under more pressure to perform because of it.

"It is surprising that I'm the only girl among the Brits to still be around. I thought Bally (Elena Baltacha) would still be in," she said.

"But I'm delighted to get through. All the hard work I have put in over the last year and over the many years has started to pay off.

"As for pressure, like my coach says, I play for myself and pressure is something you place on yourself.

"To be honest, I don't feel any. I'm just looking forward to getting out there and playing as well as I can."




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