Elise Mertens has claimed back-to-back Hobart International titles, becoming the first player in the tournament’s history to lift the trophy twice.
The Belgian second seed was too consistent for Romanian world No. 57 Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-1 4-6 6-3 in a rain-interrupted final on Saturday.
The players were forced from the court four times in a match that officially lasted two hours and 31 minutes but finished more than eight hours after it began.
Belgium’s Mertens, the world No.36, took out her maiden WTA silverware in Hobart last year as a qualifier and has become the first player to win the tournament twice in its 25-edition history.
“It’s amazing to defend a title,” 22-year-old Mertens said.
“It’s been a wonderful week and to come back to Hobart is such a great feeling.
“My level was there during the whole week, so I’m really happy with the trophy.”
Buzarnescu – appearing in her maiden WTA final at age 29 – knocked out fourth seed Alize Cornet in the opening round and hadn’t dropped a set heading into the decider.
She reeled off three straight games at the end of the second set to push the match into a third.
But 57 unforced errors proved her undoing as she became increasingly frustrated over close line calls.
“I was really close,” Buzarnescu said.
“I should have been more patient, and not complain that much.”
Mertens had two championship points ahead 5-2 in the third when rain halted play for a fourth time.
After a one-hour break, she returned to serve it out.
Mertens has a short turnaround ahead of her round-one match at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Monday, where she’s drawn a qualifier, while Buzarnescu meets world No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki.