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Acapulco | Watson battles past Wang – teenager Fernandez next

Acapulco | Watson battles past Wang – teenager Fernandez next

Heather Watson became the first-ever British women’s singles finalist at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC, battling past rising teenager Wang Xiyu in two tough sets on Friday, and will face another teenage sensation in Canadian Leylah Fernandez on Saturday.

 

I felt like the last 6 to 8 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. Heather Watson

The Brit’s quest for her first WTA singles title since 2016 continues after her 6-4 7-6(8) win over the 18-year-old qualifier Wang Xiyu of China.

Watson, ranked 69 and seeded 7 in Acapulco, needed an hour and 46 minutes to quell the 127th-ranked left-hander to advance to the 5th WTA singles final of her career.

The British No 2 is now just one win away from claiming her 4th WTA singles title, to go with trophies from 2012 Osaka, 2015 Hobart, and 2016 Monterrey.

It is her second final in 5 months, having reached the final at Tianjin last autumn.

“I felt like the last 6 to 8 months, I’ve been playing really good tennis,” Watson told the media, following her win. “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.”

Watson converted all 4 of her break points over Wang, earning two-thirds of points, 20 of 30, off of the Chinese’ second service.

Her last title came in Mexico, at the tournament in Monterrey in 2016 and it has been a tough road since, with the 27-year-old dipping in and out of the top 100, but she ended last season by reaching the final of the Tianjin Open and has not looked back.

She began 2020 by making the semi-finals of the Hobart International and this victory will lift her to 55 in the world rankings on Monday.

If she can claim the title, Watson will return to the top 50 for the first time in nearly 4 years.

“In 2016 I won in Monterrey and that was such great memories for me,” Watson said on Amazon Prime. “I just love it here in Mexico.”

Watson is the highest-ranked player left in the draw and will face 17-year old Leylah Fernandez in the final.

The Canadian teenage qualifier stopped the magical run of 22-year-old local wildcard Renata Zarazua, 6-3 6-3, on Friday night in a battle between first-time WTA semi-finalists.

“It wasn’t easy today,” Fernandez told the media after her victory. “I’m happy that I fought and did my best to get the win.”

Fernandez and Zarazua had never played before, with the Canadian finishing her Mexican opponent in an hour 27 minutes.

Both had a milestone event in Acapulco, but it was Fernandez who put an end to the Mexican’s historic run on home soil, as the teenager ousted Zarazua after 87 minutes of play.

“I honestly took the energy from the crowd,” said Fernandez. “I love how loud it is, and how emotional they are and that helped me too — even though they cheered for Renata most of the time.

“It helped me, and that made me stay focused a lot more.

“I knew the crowd wasn’t going to be for me, but I was so happy that they came and were supportive.

“They were amazing and they were respectful, and hopefully they’ll be there tomorrow, but instead of cheering against me, for me!”

Fernandez became the youngest finalist in the Mexican Open’s history when Zarazua double faulted while serving on match point.

“I played against [Watson] last year a few times,” said Fernandez, who lost two matches to Watson in Canada last summer. “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.”

Fernandez is also the first Canadian to make the event’s final.

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


Leylah Fernandez celebrates reaching the final in Acapulco

© Hector Vivas/Getty Images




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