After ending British tennis's 24 year wait for a WTA title, Heather Watson was quick to credit her friendly rivalry with fellow Briton Laura Robson as being a key element of her success.
Robson had reached the final in Guangzhou three weeks earlier, showing Watson what could be achieved. “We spur each other on," Watson said. "It's already a rivalry. When we see each other doing well we want to do even better.”
Watson and Robson are among the youngest players in the top 100 of the women's rankings, and their parallel successes are promising for the future of British women's tennis.
Watson in particular has improved markedly in 2012, bringing a new aggression to her game. "I've always been pretty ruthless,” she said. “I'm not the type to give up or give anything away. But I know I need to play further in the court, winning the point rather than waiting for the mistake.”
The determination was needed in a tense final in Osaka, in which she had to call on all her mental reserves to save four match points. "Finals have to be won," she said. "They are never given to you. But if you give me a little bit I'll take a lot. As soon as she lost her first match point I thought, 'I'm in here: I can get it back'."
Winning her first WTA final could be a career watershed for Watson, as she looks to push on into the top 20. She expects Robson to be pushing her close all the way.