Heather Watson picked up her second ITF title this year as she clinched the Vancouver Open title. Going one better than last year, Watson overcame Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo 7-5 6-4 to clinch the title and move up the world rankings once more.
Sitting just one place outside the world’s top 100, Watson travels to New York full of confidence as she looks to qualify for the US Open main draw. Here are three things we learnt about Heather Watson’s victorious week in Canada.
1. Heather Watson is still a fighter
One thing we all know about Heather Watson is that she’s a real fighter, and boy did we see that in Sunday’s final. We’ve become almost accustomed to Watson’s slow starts, especially in high stakes matches, and this was no different, falling two breaks down to trail 1-5.
However, in tennis there is always room for recovery (Tara Moore in Sunderland, anyone?), and Watson did just that. Holding to love and breaking her opponent’s serve, Watson then held again, saving set point. Sorribes Tormo then raced into a 40-0 lead at 5-4, before the Briton battled back, breaking serve, holding, and then reeling off four straight points on her opponent’s serve.
Recovering as she did shows just what a fighter Watson is. And in the second set, when facing a break point at 4-4 (following three consecutive losses of serve), Watson fought back to hold, before clinching the title. Bravo, Heather!
2. Competing in the ITFs the perfect tonic
It’s no lie that Heather Watson has struggled for form on the WTA tour. Having recorded just one tour victory all year (Wimbledon), taking a step down to focus on results on the ITF tour has been the perfect remedy.
After clinching a $60k title in Fukuoka against Zarina Diyas, the Vancouver Open is a second success of the year for Watson as she looks to battle back into the world’s elite once more. The field in Vancouver was strong, too, with the likes of Magdalena Rybarikova, Alison van Uytvack and Misaki Doi all losing in the opening round, so winning the title was no easy ride.
And Watson’s movements after the US Open are encouraging. She has already confirmed her place in the WTA New Haven 125k Series event alongside Daria Gavrilova, Madison Brengle and Monica Niculescu, as she looks to build on this success in Vancouver. Here’s hoping for more of the same again in New Haven!
3. Vancouver deserves ATP and WTA status
The Vancouver Open has finished for another year and it’s clear the players love it. Voted the best Challenger tournament of 2018 (won by Dan Evans incidentally) and 2017, the tournament is growing in popularity, with plenty of big name players in both draws.
Britons Liam Broady and Lloyd Glasspool both recorded excellent results in the ATP Challenger event, won eventually by Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis, while young Canadian Leylah Fernandez captured local interest with her run to the semi-finals.
Despite the high quality and capacity crowds (it was a sell-out from Tuesday onwards), it looks like the Vancouver Open is destined to stay at the level it is currently. Tournament director, Rik de Voest, told the National Post in Canada that, while stepping up the tournament level has been talked about, barriers such as finding a week in the calendar, and increased funding, makes it unlikely.
Well… if you continue to reel out British winners, then maybe it’s for the best that it retains its status as a $100k event. We love you, Vancouver! Now on to New York.