Heather Watson is closing in on a first WTA title in four years after advancing to the final of the Mexican Open, with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic also in finals this weekend.
The Brit has not won a tour-level title since victory in Monterrey in 2016 and she will return to the top-50 if she defeats Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez in the final.
A 6-4 7-6 (8-6) win over 18-year-old Wang Xiyu saw Watson advance to her fifth career WTA tour final, and a 17-year-old stands between her and a confidence-boosting title.
Watson said after the win: ‘In 2016 I won in Monterrey and that was such great memories for me. I just love it here in Mexico.’
Nadal, 33, will contest the men’s final in Acapulco, after a routine win over Grigor Dimitrov.
The Spanish world No. 2 is yet to drop a set this week and swept Dimitrov aside 6-3 6-2 to set up a meeting with Taylor Fritz, who fought back from a set and a break down to beat his American compatriot John Isner 2-6 7-5 6-3.
Nadal said of his win over Dimitrov: ‘I’m very happy. A great victory against one of the best players in the world and a good friend.
‘I think I’ve increased my level during the match, so it’s positive for me.
‘He [Fritz] is playing well. He has a great serve, fantastic shots from the baseline. It’s going to be a tough one.
‘I know I’m going to have to be at my best and I hope to be ready for it.’
While it’s been plain sailing for Nadal in Mexico, his main rival at the top of the ATP rankings, Djokovic, had to dig deep to maintain his unbeaten run in 2020.
The world No. 1 was a set and a break down and then saved three match points when 6-3 down in a second set tiebreak against Gael Monfils before winning 2-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-1.
Monfils has never beaten Djokovic and won’t come much closer than that but the Serb extended his respective records both against the Frenchman and against all opposition in 2020 to 17-0.
Stefanos Tsitsipas awaits him in the final after he defeated Britain’s Dan Evans 6-2 6-3.
It’s been an encouraging week for the British No. 1, who took out two top-20 players in Fabio Fognini and Andrey Rublev but was ultimately outclassed by the 21-year-old Greek second seed.
Tsitsipas is yet to win a title at ATP 500 level, Djokovic is chasing a fifth title in Dubai alone.
‘It’s anybody’s game really,’ said Djokovic. ‘He’s won eight matches in a row now from last week in France winning [the Marseille] title, now playing more or less every single day, which is quite impressive.
‘It’s not easy… I hope I can recover. I hope I can be at my best because I need to start better than I have tonight. Hopefully I can get a title.’
In Doha, Petra Kvitova will meet Aryna Sabalenka.
Eighth seed Kvitova avenged her Australian Open defeat against world No. 1 Ash Barty to book her spot in the final with a 6-4 2-6 6-4 win, while ninth seed Sabalenka was too strong for Russian veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova in a 6-4 6-3 success.
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