Cham­pion has shot to dou­ble up in Ho­bart

The Weekend Australian - - TENNIS - AAP

De­fend­ing cham­pion Elise Mertens is through to the Ho­bart In­ter­na­tional fi­nal af­ter a see-saw­ing three-set vic­tory over Bri­tish qual­i­fier Heather Wat­son.

Mertens, the No 2 seed, re­cov­ered from a mid-match slump to close out a 6-4 1-6 6-2 win in one hour and 42 min­utes.

World No 74 Wat­son hadn’t dropped a main-draw set en route to yes­ter­day’s semi-fi­nal and was gun­ning for a spot in the fi­nal of the tour­na­ment she won in 2015.

“(It is) just frus­trat­ing. Thought I made too many un­forced er­rors,” Wat­son said. “Be­cause I’d been play­ing so well, I ex­pected more of my­self.”

Wat­son had the run­ning at the start of the third set but mo­men­tum flipped when Mertens broke in the fourth game cour­tesy of a pin­point lob to take a 3-1 lead. Mertens broke again in the fi­nal game of the match.

Mertens could be­come the first player to claim a sec­ond Ho­bart ti­tle.

Wat­son has turned her at­ten­tion to next week’s Aus­tralian Open where she’s drawn Kazakh- stan’s world No 53 Yu­lia Putint­seva in the open­ing round.

“I’ve come through some tough bat­tles which has made me feel very ready for if it gets tough in Mel­bourne,” the 25-year-old said.

Mean­while in Auck­land, Roberto Bautista Agut mus­cled his way into the ASB Clas­sic fi­nal with a 6-7 (7-9) 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-5) vic­tory over Dutch­man Robin Haase.

In a match char­ac­terised by long rallies and deep de­ter­mi­na­tion from both play­ers, Spain’s Bautista Agut even­tu­ally did enough to tri­umph.

The world No 21 found valiant op­po­si­tion in Haase, who re­cov­ered from a poor start to win the first set. But with all three sets go­ing to a tiebreak, Bautista Agut’s ac­cu­racy and fit­ness came to the fore, win­ning in just un­der three hours.

From the base­line or the net, he demon­strated an un­canny abil­ity to keep the rallies alive. And while he strug­gled with Haase’s serve, con­ced­ing 19 aces, the 2016 Clas­sic cham­pion also nailed al­most three-quar­ters of his first serves.

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