Watson, Mertens, Tsurenko through to Hobart semifinals

HOBART, Australia — British qualifier Heather Watson won the first 11 games of the match in defeating Donna Vekic 6-0, 6-4 and advancing to the Hobart International semifinals on Thursday.

Leading 5-0 in the second set, Vekic won four games in a row before Watson clinched it.

"I knew she'd change something and swing freely because you've got nothing to lose at that point," Watson said. "I just had to stick with her."

Watson will play second-seeded and defending champion Elise Mertens after Mertens received a walkover when Monica Niculescu withdrew with a neck injury.

"I felt a creak in my neck, and I cannot move properly since," Niculescu said of the injury sustained in her previous match. "I'm disappointed because I like this tournament."

Mertens beat Niculescu in the Hobart final last year.

Fifth-seeded Lesia Tsurenko beat Aryna Sabalenka 6-1, 6-1 and will next play Mihaela Buzarnescu, who defeated Alison Riske 7-6 (5), 6-1 in a night quarterfinal.

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