Heather Watson became the first British woman to win a WTA singles title in 24 years by winning the Japan Open.
The 20 year old defeated Chang Kai-chen of Taiwan 7-5, 5-7, 7-6 (4) in Osaka to post victory in a marathon final, after saving four match points. With the win, Watson also attained a top fifty ranking for the first time in her career and replaced Laura Robson as the British number one.
The final was a thrilling, topsy-turvy affair with both Watson and Chang earning 33 break points and managing to break each other's service game 14 times. Watson broke Chang four times to win the first set 7-5 but dropped her serve thrice in the second to lose by the same score line.
Chang then held three match points when serving in the 10th game of the final set and looked all set for a win but Watson produced an incredible fight back to win the game and take the set to a tie break, which she won 7-4 to take the set, the match and the title. The entire contest lasted three hours and 11 minutes.
Sara Gomer was the last British woman to win a WTA singles event - in California in 1988 - four years before Watson was born. Watson had not previously progressed beyond the quarter finals of a WTA event but is now the Japan Open champion, just a month after Robson reached the final in China.
"I was in the changing room afterwards and I thought to myself, 'Did I really win?' So it's just starting to settle in. I've worked so hard for this moment my whole career - that's why I practised so hard, ran all those miles and lifted all those weights, for moments like this," BBC quoted Watson as saying
Andy Murray won the US Open last month to end a 76 year wait for a British Grand Slam men's singles winner, to add to his Olympic gold medal at London 2012.
"Britain has been breaking quite a few records recently, so I'm happy I could break another one today. I'm proud to do this for my country," Watson added.
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