By Nick Mulvenney
Britain’s Heather Watson defied the Tasmanian wind to secure her second WTA title with a 6-3 6-4 victory over American qualifier Madison Brengle in the final of the Hobart International on Saturday.
Watson was a popular winner of an event which battled rain and blustery conditions all week, wrapping up a hard-fought but error-strewn contest in a little under one-and-a-half hours.
The world number 49 did not lose a set at the tournament and will take a major confidence boost across the Bass Strait to Melbourne for the Australian Open, where she meet Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova in the first round.
“I’ve enjoyed my time here so, so much and I’d love to come back here again next year,” Watson told the crowd in the presentation ceremony.
“I know it hasn’t been superb weather for tennis but you’ve definitely made it fun for us.”
Watson’s friend Brengle had battled her way through seven matches in qualifying and the main draw to reach her first WTA final and was determined to make an impression, forcing Watson to save 11 break points in her first two service games.
The 12th saw the 24-year-old American claim the first break of the match when Watson double faulted but it was just one of five in the set and the Briton’s superior net game helped her take a 1-0 lead.
Brengle continued to struggle with her blistered right hand in the second set with her forehand responsible for 21 of her 34 unforced errors.
Watson pounced to claim the only break of the set for a 4-3 lead and three games later was serving for the match, which she secured when Brengle went wide with a backhand.
The Channel Islander paid tribute to her Argentine coach Diego Veronelli, who started working with her in late 2013 after she had won her maiden title in Osaka in 2012.
“We work so hard together but we also have fun,” the 22-year-old said.
“Whoo! Title number one.”