Champion has shot to double up in Hobart
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.