By Ros Satar
- Heather Watson is edged out in the Hobart semi-final
- Elise Mertens  def. Watson 6-4 1-6 6-2
- Plenty of encouraging signs that Watson is back on the rise
HOBART, AUSTRALIA – In the battle of the Hobart champions, Elise Mertens moved one step closer to defending her title, stopping Heather Watson‘s run in the semi-final.
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Elise Mertens  def. Heather Watson [Q] 6-4 1-6 6-2
Perhaps more so for Mertens, who is the defending champion, and got her season off to a rip-roaring start impressing many as part of a cohesive Belgian team at the Hopman Cup.
The impassive Belgian had not dropped a set on the way to the semi-final, and was just that little bit more tenacious when it counted, as a single break was all that seperated them in the first set.
Watson’s serve has been pretty impressive, and a step up in aggression saw her skate into a 4-1 lead. As we have been accustomed to with British players, the rollercoaster looke like it was going to rumble into effect as Watson looked jittery having got her nose in front.
A few line calls that had not gone her way had added to the increasing muttering, hollering and geeing herself along, but she found a way to channel that, breaking Mertens a second time and then serving the set out comfortably.
Despite having the first break point chances at the start of the decider, it was Mertens who struck first swiftly jumping out to a 4-1 lead. Watson steadied the nerves to get another game on the board, but Mertens’ form has just been too solid since the start of the season, as she broke Watson to reach the final.
There is plenty though for Watson to take from this week. She has amassed some solid match-practice under her belt and some solid momentum this week. She is in the main draw for the Australian Open and could fancy her chances in her opening round against Yulia Putintseva.
The Australian Open starts on 15 January.
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