Mertens makes history in Hobart

Belgian Elise Mertens defended her Hobart International title on Saturday, beating Mihaela Buzarnescu in three sets following a rain delay.

Hobart International champion Elise Mertens   -  Getty Images

Elise Mertens overcame Mihaela Buzarnescu to become the first dual winner of the Hobart International on Saturday. Mertens claimed her maiden WTA singles title in Tasmania last year and added a second 12 months later, beating the unseeded Buzarnescu 6-1 4-6 6-3.

The second seed from Belgium was on the verge of defending her title at 5-2 in the final set when play was suspended due to rain, but returned to finish the job.

Buzarnescu lost her previous two matches against Mertens at ITF level and the 22-year-old came out on top again, grasping five of 16 break-point opportunities to take the title.

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Mertens bossed the first set, Buzarnescu failing to hold in all four of her service games before looking more assured in the second, claiming the only break to set up a decider.

Buzarnescu, playing her first WTA final, showed character to save four match points following the delay, but Mertens was not to be denied two days before the Australian Open gets under way. Mertens had the opportunity to claim a second title of the day playing in the doubles final with Demi Schuur.