Having already notched up a couple of qualifying rounds, British No. 2 Heather Watson had already played an outstanding match to down two-time Hobart champion Elise Mertens on her way to this first time match-up with Elena Rybakina.
Rybakina had already reached the Shenzhen final, with a strategy based around a strong serve and an attacking game, and she was the one to strike first with an early break in Watson’s opening game. The Brit at least got on the board before the first changeover, and kept her head to reak back, but gave it up straight away.
Rybakina kept up the pressure to break Watson once more for the first set. However that resolve soon started to desert her Watson was the first to break in the second set, and quickly built up a 5-1 lead over the unravelling Kazakh.
The jotters started to hit Watson as she missed out on her first chance to grab the second set squandering two set points before Rybakina turned the tables on Watson. The girl from Guernsey had to fend off two more break points on her second chance to seize the set, before finally converting on her third set point.
The decider saw both have chances for a break, in a highly entertaining set, but after taking a medical time-out, Rybakina hung on to break Watson for the match.
Watson jumps back into the Top 100 after this week, and will open her Australian Open campaign against Kristyna Pliskova.
The Australian Open takes place between 20 January and 2 February.
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