Watson ends season on high note
Heather Watson says victory in the Japan Open was the perfect way to end the year as the new British number one moved into the top 50 for the first time in her career.
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The 20-year-old from Guernsey survived four match points against Chang Kai-chen to claim the title 7-5 5-7 7-6 (7/4) in a match which lasted over three hours.
The bonus of hitting the number 50 spot rounds off a terrific year for Watson as she moved above compatriot Laura Robson, who sits two places below the Channel Islander at 52.
"I really wanted to do well this week so I could earn my rest next week because this is my last tournament of the year. I don't think I could have ended it any better," she told BBC Radio Five Live.
"Being in the top 50 was a real goal for me and it will push me to make harder goals for myself. I'm excited to have a break but I am looking forward to working hard again because it motivates me to achieve more.
"Laura and I have come through the rankings together
juniors and seniors - and we're both very competitive, so when we see the other doing well, it pushes us," Watson added.
"Knowing Laura did so well in China a few weeks ago definitely motivated me this week. But I think it's great we're really good friends off the court as well."
It was the first ATP Tour victory by a British woman since Sara Gomer won in California in 1988 and Watson was in no mood to downplay the achievement.
"I've been working to be more aggressive lately," she told BBC Radio Five Live. "When I got to the point when I was three match points down and she was serving for the match at 5-4 40-0 I just thought 'oh no, I had this, I was so close', but I just took it point by point, I don't know how I did it but I did.
"Now I've got the title and I am so happy, this ranks as one of the best days of my life.
"I've worked so hard for this moment my whole career. That's why I practised so hard, ran all those miles and lifted all those weights, for moments like this.
"I was in the changing room afterwards, changing my clothes, and I thought to myself, 'Did I really win?' So it's just starting to settle in."
Eighteen time singles major winner Martina Navratilova paid tribute to Watson on twitter believing she was due some glory.
"Well done Heather- your determination, grit, talent and most of all hard work has finally paid off- congrats:)," she tweeted.