Belgium's Mertens wins Hobart WTA International final

Belgian qualifier Elise Mertens downed Romanian third seed Monica Niculescu to win the Hobart International for her maiden WTA title on Saturday.

Mertens, ranked 127 and the third qualifier to win the Hobart tournament, defeated the world No.40 Niculescu 6-3, 6-1 in the 74-minute final.

The 21-year-old Belgian made a nervous start in her first WTA final, losing nine of the first 10 points before settling and taking control of the match.

"I played really well today," Mertens said. "I didn't make a lot of mistakes, mentally I was strong to stay in the rallies and take my chances when it was needed. I think my serve worked pretty well."

Mertens became the third qualifier to win the Hobart title following German Mona Barthel in 2012 and Spaniard and subsequent French Open champion Garbine Muguruza in 2014.

Mertens is also the third Belgian player to win the event, following her mentor Kim Clijsters in 2000 and current Belgian Fed Cup captain Dominique Monami in 1997.

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