England's struggling cricketers may be toiling against their Australian opponents Down Under at present, but elsewhere in Oz the Barmy Army may have more to shout about after WTA success for Guernsey's Heather Watson.
Watson went into the final of the Hobart International knowing that she was probably the slight favourite for the title against American Madison Brengle, but also keen to control her nerves after a tense finish to the semi-final against Alison Riske where she had struggled to close the game out, wasting several match points in the process. She had come through that mini- ordeal where rain delays frustrated her in the act of winning and may actually benefit from it in the long run if similar circumstances face her in future matches.
Her straight sets victory 6-3 6-4 was as much as she could have hoped for, giving her only a second WTA title on the tour. In doing so, she emulated the feats of Anne Hobbs as the last Brit to take two tour titles, and at only 22 years of age must surely feel that the best is yet ahead of her, as she strives to improve her world ranking from the 49th position she started the week at. Although there were several matches during the week where she struggled at times, often as much down to the errancy in her own game as much as the brilliance of her opponents, she will be highly delighted with her performances and knowing that she did not drop a set during the event. Perhaps her most encouraging performance was the defeat of world number 33 (although she has been as high as 11 in 2013), the highly rated Sloane Stephens in the second round.
The victory was by no means a certainty for Watson, as she struggled initially to harness the windy conditions and twice lost her serve in the early stages of the first set, before recovering to level at 3-3. Seeming more at ease by then, she proceeded to take the next three games to clinch the set. Set two was slightly smoother for Britain's number one, but even then she had a slight concern at 15-30 when serving for the match, before closing the match out.
It has been a steady return to form for Watson, who won her first WTA title over two years ago at the Japan Open, but was then forced to interrupt her promising #Tennis career when she contracted glandular fever. Her association with Argentinian coach Diego Veronelli now seems to be bearing fruit as she heads back up the rankings.
She will now look to push on at the Australian Open in Melbourne beginning on Monday, where she has only previously reached the third round in 2013, and hopefully make it into the second week of competition at least. Her first round opponent Tsvetana Pironkova from Bulgaria should be eminently beatable provided that she maintains her focus and limits the error count. With no fourth round appearances to her name yet in any of the Grand Slams (she also made the third round of Wimbledon in 2012), Watson will be keen to put that right as soon as possible, with Melbourne seeming an opportune time to do just that given the form she seems to be in at present. #Celebrities