Watson's run ends in Hobart
Heather Watson’s bid to win the Hobart International has been halted at the semi-final stage
The British No.2, who had to fight through qualifying just to earn a spot in the main draw, fell to defending champion, Elise Mertens, in three sets despite a valiant effort.
Watson’s extended stay in Tasmania will have provided her with a timely confidence boost ahead of the upcoming Australian Open, which begins on Monday. The 25-year-old will start against Yulia Putintseva.
Mertens, a 6-4 1-6 6-2 winner over the Brit, will attempt to become the first player to prevail in Hobart on more than one occasion this weekend. “I tried to play a bit more aggressive in the third set and make her run a little bit more,” said the Belgian, who dominated the decider.
“She (Watson) was dictating me in the second set, so all credits to her. She played an amazing match.”
Mertens will encounter Mihaela Buzarnescu in the championship match. Her Romanian opponent, ranked No.57 in the world and yet to drop a set this week, is into her first WTA final at the age of 29 - after brushing Lesia Tsurenko aside for the concession of just four games.
At the Sydney International, where there are more ranking points on offer than in Hobart, Angelique Kerber moved a significant step closer to ending her trophy drought.
The former world No.1 was on the periphery for much of last year, however she has started this season with renewed purpose. Under the guidance of new coach Wim Fissette, the German strolled into the final thanks to 6-2 6-3 triumph over Camila Giorgi.
She will challenge home-favourite, Ashleigh Barty, in the final on Saturday. The Australian No.1 dropped the first set of her semi-final clash with compatriot, Daria Gavrilova, but responded well and eventually sealed a 3-6 6-4 6-2 victory.