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WTA Tokyo: Qualifiers Diyas and Kato reach the title match

WTA Tokyo: Qualifiers Diyas and Kato reach the title match

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by Jovica Ilic

23-year-old Kazakhstani qualifier Zarina Diyas made her second WTA final (Osaka 2014) after a solid 6-4 0-6 6-3 triumph over a defending champion Christina McHale in 2 hours and 8 minutes. After losing the opening set, McHale grabbed 9 out of the next 10 games to be 3-1 up in the decider, only to lose the remaining 5 games and ruin her hopes of title defense. Despite a left knee strapping, Ziyas fought well and prevailed in the crucial moments of the first and third sets, despite losing serve 7 times.

McHale saved 12 out of 18 break points but she ran out of gas in the closing stages, letting a lead slip away from her. It wasn't a good serving display from either player and returners had numerous chances, which turned this encounter into a very entertaining one.

Christina won 8 out of the first 10 points to earn an early lead before Diyas broke back in game 4, converting her 5th break point. Players traded breaks in games 5 and 6 as well and Zarina got another one in game 10, clinching the set by 6-4 on her 3rd set point, after a costly double fault from the American.

McHale took charge in the second set, serving well and having an upper hand on the return as well, breaking her rival thrice for a 6-0, closing the set with a service winner and she was the favorite in the decider. She carried on in the same style, breaking for the 5th time in a row to grab a 3-1 lead in the final set, with another break point in game 5, that would probably seal the deal for her.

Instead of that, Ziyas held to cut the deficit to 3-2 and that was a game changer, as she won 19 out of the last 23 points to storm over the finish line, taking the set by 6-3 and reaching the final. Semi-final results:

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