By Ros Satar

  • Heather Watson [7] def. Wang Xiyu [Q] 6-4 7-6(6)
  • Watson [7] def. Leylah Fernandez [Q] | Watson leads H2H 2-0 (incl. ITF)
ACAPULCO, MEXICO – Heather Watson bids for her first title since 2016 when she takes on qualifier Leylah Fernandez in the final.

 

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Heather Watson [7] def. Wang Xiyu [Q] 6-4 7-6(6)

British No. 2 Heather Watson was facing the 18-year-old qualifier Wang Xiyu for a spot in a first final since closing out last season in the Tianjin final. The big hitting former US Open junior champion has enjoyed a swift rise up the rankings and as Watson broke in the first game, she pummelled short balls to break straight back.

However, with great power comes a far greater risk of wayward strikes, and on a number of occasions double-faults would gift back breaks to a more patient and far less edgy Watson in a first set that saw breaks a-plenty.

After a brace of breaks in the first two games, there was another flurry with Watson able to edge ahead once more and experience showed as she just stayed steadier in the big moments while Wang felt a little frustrated at times.

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The second set started in the same way with an immediate break from Watson but by now Wang was overcoming some of the first set jitters, making for a more competitive second set for the teenager. She broke back and stayed toe-to-toe with the Brit, who was aiming to make a first final this season, having run to the semi-final of Hobart at the start of the season.

Watson took the lead in the tie-break, and Wang turned the tide to edge ahead before Watson responded with two mini-breaks of her own. From there, the Brit was closing in, taking the match on her third match point.

As reported by the WTA, Watson said: “I felt like the last six to eight months, I’ve been playing really good tennis. I’m happy with my game, I’m happy with my life, and everything just seems to be falling into place.

“The last few years, I’ve been working really hard and making some changes, so I think now I’m being rewarded for it. I feel really confident, happy, and excited for tomorrow’s final.”

“The girl I played today was 18, so everybody’s young now! I’ve played Leylah [Fernandez] a couple of times, both times were very tough. She’s very talented, a very good competitor.”

 

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Watson [7] v. Leylah Fernandez [Q] | Watson leads H2H 2-0 (incl. ITF)

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Watson comes into the final as the only seed standing as she faces not only another qualifier, but another teenager as the Canadian 17-year-old Leylah Fernandez looks to win a first tour-level title, having won her first title last year at the ITF level.

However, she has met the Brit twice, both at tour and the lower ITF tier, and Watson has had the measure of the youngster quite comfortably in straight sets.

It has been a busy week for Fernandez, as she gears up for her seventh straight match, but she is yet to drop a set this week, whereas most observers of a Watson tournament knows that the rollercoaster of coming back from a set down or battling through a decider after a strong start are par for a Watson course.

The diminutive Canadian at 5’3” moves well and plays with great anticipation not to mention having the fearlessness and feistiness that comes with youth and although Watson has been able to be a lot more aggressive in her game, she also has the experience to adjust and be more patient.

Experience is key, but Fernandez can play freely which could play on the Brit’s mind a she is expected to notch up a win.

As reported by the WTA, Fernandez said: “I know she’s a very aggressive player and that she’s a tough competitor, and I’m excited to play against her in a final. I’ll just go out there and fight and work for every ball.”

Prediction: Watson in three sets.

Watson and Fernandez are scheduled on Estadio at 6pm (Midnight Sunday, GMT).

 

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