Hobart: Top-two seeds, Elise Mertens, Garbine Muguruza crash out

Top-seed Mertens bowed out to Heather Watson while Muguruza had to withdraw before her quarter-final due to viral illness

by Abbey Johnson
Hobart: Top-two seeds, Elise Mertens, Garbine Muguruza crash out

Hobart International lost both its top two seeds on Thursday. Earlier, before the day's play began, second seed and 2014 champion Garbine Muguruza of Spain was forced to pull out of the tournament with a viral illness. Her withdrawal meant fifth-seeded Russian Veronika Kudermetova received a walkover into the semi-finals.

Expressing her disappointment about withdrawing from the event, Muguruza said, "I’m really sad that I had to withdraw from the Hobart International. It’s such a special tournament for me and it has been great to return again this year.

Thanks to all the wonderful fans and hopefully I can be back." Kudermetova will play fourth seed, China's Shuai Zhang, for a place in the final in the bottom section of the draw. Zhang defeated the United States' Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-4 in an hour and 28 minutes in their last-eight clash.

In the top-half, two-time former titlist and top-seed Elise Mertens was upset by Britain's Heather Watson. In the match between the two past champions, the 2015 champion, Watson edged out Mertens, 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-5 in three hours and 33 minutes.

This year, Watson had made it through to the main draw as a qualifier. This was also her first win over the Belgian in four meetings. An elated Watson shared, "I've played Elise before this, and she's beaten me every time. I'm very happy with how I played today, especially under the circumstances.

It's been busy, and I feel like I've pretty much been living here at the club, but it's not a bad place to be. I just need to take care of my body now and get ready for my next match." Watson will play the highest remaining seed in the draw, third seed Elena Rybakina in the semi-final, in the top-half.

The Kazakh player defeated Australian Lizette Cabrera in another comeback match, 6-7(4), 7-6(2), 7-5 in two hours and 37 minutes. Photo Credit: Hobart International Twitter

Elise Mertens Garbine Muguruza Heather Watson