Japan Open: Lin Zhu to vie for crown in Osaka against maiden finalist, Ashlyn Krueger

The only remaining home player in the event, Mai Hontama's efforts came to an end in the SF

by Abbey Johnson
Japan Open: Lin Zhu to vie for crown in Osaka against maiden finalist, Ashlyn Krueger
© Sarah Stier/ Getty Images

Lin Zhu will play Ashlyn Krueger in the final of the Japan Open on Sunday. Zhu and Krueger won their respective semi-finals on Saturday. Zhu beat fellow countrywoman, Xinyu Wang while Krueger got past Mai Hontama. In the first semi-final, Krueger defeated Hontama 6-3, 6-3 in an hour and 38 minutes.

Krueger won 64% of her first-serve points to Hontama’s 56%. She also won 47% of her second-serve points and 60% points on return on the latter’s second serve. The 19-year-old also converted five break points on Hontama’s serve and saved two of the four break points she faced.

This is the first time in her career Krueger’s reached the finale of a WTA tournament in her career. In fact, this week marked several milestones for the world no. 123. She made it to her maiden semi-final before reaching the final.

Also, this is the first time she won more than two matches consecutively in a WTA tournament. Previously, at the Libema Open in S’Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands, Krueger reached the quarter-finals after having won her first and second-round matches in the WTA 250 on grass.

She’d defeated former world no. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the pre-quarter-finals in that tournament.

Japan Open: Lin Zhu's been the player of the week

Against Zhu, Krueger will be facing a slightly more experienced opponent.

The no. 1 seeded player in Osaka this week, Zhu needed two hours and four minutes to secure a 7-5, 7-6(6) win for herself over her third-seeded countrywoman, Xinyu Wang. After both Zhu and Wang won their respectively quarter-finals, it became obvious that there would be a Chinese player contesting Sunday’s title clash.

Although the 29-year-old Zhu came out firing through the blocks, her younger compatriot did her best to get back into the match. However, Zhu thwarted her attempts successfully. In the second set tie-break, Wang saved the first match point she faced but couldn’t save the second. At the Japan Open, Lin Zhu will try to win the second WTA title of her career.

Japan Open Lin Zhu Mai Hontama