Played indoors in the end after a five-hour rain delay, Watson, facing the world No 59, could not quite repeat the glorious form that had taken her to the final.
The result should not, though, distract from a brilliant week in China for the British No. 2 on another of those career upswings which follow her mystifying downturns.
To say it had been a battle for Watson in Tianjin is an understatement.
In a year that has seen her struggle for main draw form at tour level, and dropping down to the lower ITF tiers to regain some much needed confidence, to make the main draw in Tianjin on her own merit was an achievement in itself.
Despite a three-hour long quarter-final against the No. 8 seed Magda Linette,Watson started Saturday’s semi-final against Veronika Kudermetova, with an immediate break to build up a 4-1 advantage.
Breaking the Russian again towards the end of the set helped her wrap up a quick lead.
Kudermetova rallied a little, in the second set, able to defend herself against more pressure from Watson, saving two break points but was unable to do the same on her next service game, handing Watson the advantage. She fought hard to bring up three points to break the Guernsey player straight back, but Watson defended well.
Kudermetova did well to save a couple of match points as Watson threatened to break her for the match, but was able to book her spot in the final for the third time of asking.
‘I think all those hours on court helped me play well today, so maybe it was a good thing,’ she said after the semi.
Watson’s Tianjin results guarantee she will climb back inside the world’s top 100.
‘I am so happy on court now and I am so enjoying my game again,’ she said after the final.