Watson dazzles in Hobart
If only Heather Watson could play in Hobart every week
The British No.2 has struggled to string consecutive wins together in recent months, but returning to the scene of a previous a triumph appears to have helped her rediscover her best form.
Watson collected her second WTA title in Hobart three years ago and she remains on course to make it a double in Tasmania after reaching the semi-finals - thanks to a thumping 6-0 6-4 win over Donna Vekic.
The Brit won the first 11 games against the Croatian and looked to be coasting towards the finishing line, however she was forced to withstand a spirited fightback from her rejuvenated opponent before sealing a big victory.
Her reward is a last four meeting with No.2 seed, Elise Mertens, who received a walkover due to Monica Niculescu pulling out the tournament.
After reaching her first semi-final in six months, a delighted Watson said: "Every match I play, I feel like I'm getting better and better, tennis-wise and mentally. I'm just very happy at the moment.
"I don't think she [Vekic] played her best today, but I'm glad to win. I'm very happy to be here in the semi-finals."
In the two other quarter-finals, Lesia Tsurenko rolled past Aryna Sabalenka 6-1 6-1 and Mihaela Buzarnescu banished Alison Riske 7-6(5) 6-1.
At the Sydney International, Garbine Muguruza’s Australian Open preparations suffered another blow after she was forced to withdraw with a right thigh issue prior to her scheduled contest with Daria Gavrilova.
It’s been an inauspicious start to the year for the Wimbledon champion as cramp forced her to quit against Aleksandra Krunic in Brisbane last week.
Ashleigh Barty delighted the locals by dominating Barbora Strycova 6-3 6-2 and Angelique Kerber’s resurgence appears to be well under way. The German eased into the last four after dispatching Dominika Cibulkova 6-3 6-1.
Camila Giorgi, who came through qualifying, is also into the semi-finals. The watchable Italian showed no mercy as she romped to an emphatic 6-1 6-2 success over Agnieszka Radwanska.
In the men’s event in Australia’s biggest city, Alex de Minaur continues to flourish. The Sydney-born teenager got the better of Feliciano Lopez – 18 years his senior – 6-4 6-4 to reach the semi-finals of an ATP event for the second week in a row.
His next challenge will be against the inimitable, Benoit Paire. The volatile and occasionally brilliant Frenchman took out the defending champion, Gilles Muller, 6-4 6-4.
Fabio Fognini edged a lengthy affair with Adrian Mannarino 6-7(4) 7-6(4) 6-2 and Daniil Medvedev ensured there would no all-Italian semi-final after a commanding 6-3 6-3 win over Paolo Lorenzi.