Heather Watson breaks into WTA top 50 with Japan Open title

Heather Watson has made it into the WTA top 50 for the first time following her victory at the Japan Open.

The 20-year-old from Guernsey is 50th in the latest rankings, up from 71, replacing fellow Laura Robson, who is 52nd, as the British number one.

Watson became the first Briton in 24 years to win a WTA Tour singles title by beating Chang Kai-chen of Chinese Taipei on Sunday.

WTA rankings

1. Victoria Azaranka (Blr)

2. Maria Sharapova (Rus)

3. Serena Williams (USA)

4. Agnieszka Radwanska (Pol)

5. Petra Kvitova (Cze)

Leading Britons

50. Heather Watson (GB)

52. Laura Robson (GB)

83. Anne Keothavong (GB)

134. Elena Baltacha (GB)

155. Johanna Konta (GB)

"The top 50 was a goal - it will push me to make harder goals," she said.

"I really wanted to do well this week so I could earn my rest next week because this is my last tournament of the year. I don't think I could have ended it any better," she told BBC Radio 5 live.

"I'm excited to have a break but I am looking forward to working hard again because it motivates me to achieve more.

Eighteen-year-old Robson's hopes of making the top 50 suffered a blow when she was knocked out at the quarter-final stage in Osaka.

"Laura and I have come through the rankings together - juniors and seniors - and we're both very competitive, so when we see the other doing well, it pushes us," Watson added.

Annabel Croft, a former British number one, expects Watson and Robson to continue climbing the rankings.

"Heather has a fantastic chance to go up further, as does Laura," the 46-year-old told BBC Radio 5 live. "We will see them go much higher than 50."

Victoria Azaranka of Belarus remains top of the rankings,  ahead of Russia's Maria Sharapova and American Serena Williams.