Watson, Mertens into semifinals

11 January 2018, by Leigh Rogers

Two former Hobart International champions will face-off in this year’s semifinals.

Brit Heather Watson, who won the 2015 title, has set up a showdown with defending champion Elise Mertens.

Watson was near impeccable in today’s quarterfinals, racing to a 6-0 5-0 lead over Croatian Donna Vekic.

Vekic began to find her range late in the match, reeling off four consecutive games. But Watson managed to withstand the momentum swing to break in the 10th game and secure a 6-0 6-4 win in 61 minutes.

“From the beginning of the match I just played really, really well,” Watson said. “I was pretty flawless, no mistakes and then at 5-0 Donna raised her level.

“I knew she’d swing free because she had nothing to lose at that point, so I just had to sort of stick with her and when it came to closing it out I was very pleased with that last game.”

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Mertens advanced via a walkover in her scheduled quarterfinal, with a neck injury forcing Romanian Monica Niculescu to withdraw from their 2017 final rematch.

“I’m disappointed because I love this tournament,” Niculescu said.

“I hit a simple backhand and I felt a crack in my neck, since then I can’t move properly. I’m sorry for the fans, I really enjoy playing here but I cannot move, so I think it is the right decision.”