Heather Watson’s run at the Hobart International ended with a semi-final loss to Elise Mertens.

Watson has been in excellent form in Tasmania but found defending champion Mertens, the world number 36, ultimately too strong.

Watson, who won the title in 2015, fought back well after losing the opening set but Mertens regrouped in the decider and went on to triumph 6-4 1-6 6-2.

The British number two will now head to Melbourne, where she opens her Australian Open campaign against Kazakh Yulia Putintseva.