Heather Watson, Hobart International 2018 QF | (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Heather Watson, Hobart International 2018 QF | (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Heather Watson earns Hobart semi-final spot against defending champion

By Jake Davies

  • Heather Watson [Q] defeats Donna Vekic 6-0 6-4
  • Faces defending champion Elise Mertens for a spot in the final
HOBART, AUSTRALIA – Heather Watson carries on a great run of form as she eases past Donna Vekic to set uo a clash against defending champion Elise Mertens.


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Heather Watson [Q] defeats Donna Vekic 6-0 6-4

It looks like it’s a week to savour for Britain’s Heather Watson as she won her fifth match at the Hobart International and advanced to the semi-finals with a straight-sets demolition of Croatia’s Donna Vekic.

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Watson was seeing the ball like a football for lengths of the match. The Brit charged into a tremendous lead as she took the first eleven games of the match and looked set to win her first professional match without dropping a single game, but Vekic had something to say about that. You could sense that the tension started to creep into Watson’s game as she got so close to the finishing line, but Vekic’s level improved a lot, too. Vekic started producing the shotmaking that you would expect from her and reeled off four games in a row, but would then get broken to lose the match 6-0, 6-4 to the British No.2.

Another great performance and another great week for Watson, who talked positively about her tennis at the conclusion of the match. She mentioned the great confidence she has, not only in her tennis game, but in her mentality throughout the week at the Hobart International. You could immediately tell that Watson responds well to these surroundings at an even she’s done so well at in the past and it shows in the improvement in her performances. She took a bit of a knock in Brisbane, where she was easily beaten by Anett Kontaveit, but Watson recognised that her opponent played a near-perfect match and moved on to the next tournament with her belief and confidence intact.


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Heather Watson [Q] vs Elise Mertens [2] H2H: Mertens leads 1-0

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Watson’s semi-final match will be against the defending champion Elise Mertens. Mertens had her breakthrough year in 2017. She won her first WTA title at Hobart, where she came through qualifying and therefore broke the Top 100 for the first time. The Belgian is very sound off the ground. There’s a reassurance and solidity about her ground strokes and her depth control is really impressive. She plays her best tennis on grass, but I can see her making heavy strides on the hard courts as she gains in experience and maturity. She’s on the brink of a Grand Slam seeding at the future Grand Slams, so that would give her a real incentive for defending her Hobart title.

I do think Mertens will edge this one. She played very well in Hopman Cup last week and I expect her to keep rising up the rankings quite rapidly this year.

Prediction: Mertens in two sets