Defending champ Mertens facing Buzarnescu in Hobart final

Elise Mertens, of Belgium. (Julio Cortez/AP)

HOBART, Australia — Elise Mertens will defend her Hobart International title in the final after eliminating 2015 champion Heather Watson 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 on Friday.

Mertens will play Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania, who has reached her maiden WTA final.

Buzarnescu beat fifth-seeded Lesia Tsurenko 6-2, 6-2 in her second career semifinal. She is guaranteed to break into the top 50 rankings for the first time on Monday.

Watson, a qualifier, hadn’t dropped a main-draw set until running into second-seeded Mertens.

"(It is) just frustrating. Thought I made too many unforced errors," Watson said. "Because I’d been playing so well, I expected more of myself."

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