Emma Navarro outlasts Elise Mertens in Hobart final

Emma Navarro outlasts Elise Mertens in Hobart final

MELBOURNE, Australia — Emma Navarro gave herself a huge boost ahead of her Australian Open debut by claiming her first WTA tour title with a 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 victory over Elise Mertens in the final of the Hobart International on Saturday.

The 22-year-old American took the match to her top-seeded Belgian opponent from the start of her first tour final, shooting winners from both sides on the back of her big groundstrokes and wrapping up the first set in short order.

The experienced Mertens, who was aiming for a third title in the Hobart after back-to-back triumphs in 2017 and 2018, came storming back in a tighter second set when the blustery Tasmanian wind made serving tricky.

The 2018 Australian Open semifinalist rallied from 40-0 down to hold for 5-4 and leveled up the contest at 1-1 with the seventh break of serve in the set.

The tit-for-tat service breaks continued in an engrossing decider until Navarro edged ahead at 6-5 and kept her nerves at bay to complete the win with a big forehand down the line.

Navarro, the 27th seed, faces China’s Wang Xiyu on her Melbourne Park debut on Monday, while Mertens will open her Australian Open campaign against Egyptian Mayar Sherif.

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