No.6 seed and defending champion Zarina Diyas claimed her 11th victory at the Hana-cupid Japan Women's Open as she opened her eight campaign in the tournament with a 6-2 6-1 win Sara Sorribes Tormo, 6-2, 6-1. The Kazakh returned to Japan to defend the title she won – her first at WTA level – against Japan’s Miyu Kato 12 months ago - at the International-level event held in Tokyo.
Diyas, who was runner-up in 2014 and moved to the quarterfinals in 2013, needed just 67 minutes to advance to the second round. "I'm not thinking about defending a title, I'm just trying to enjoy to play every match and every game here.
I'm feeling good. It was a really good game today. It was tough," WTATennis.con quoted Diyas to say after the match. Diyas struck 17 winners to Sorribes Tormo's six, to clinch a berth in the second round against Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova.
The Kazakh leads 2-1 in their head to head having won the most recent clash in Chicago on hardcourt earlier this season as the Spaniard accumulated 22 unforced errors and five doubles. Home favorite Nao Hibino upset 6-4 6-4 Eugenie Bouchard sealing six breaks from six looks and winning 67% of second serve return points.
The Canadian, who lost in three-sets in their lone previous meeting in Vancouver, suffered the second consecutive first time loss as she surrendered to Kristie Ahn in Chicago last week. Hibino, the only Japanese player in the second round, will meet the top seed Shuai Zhang bidding for the second win in the last five clashes against Top 50 players.
The Chinese won the only previous meeting, in the final of a $100k event in Tokyo in 2015. American qualifier Amanda Anisimova defeated Croatia's Jana Fett in just 51 minutes, 6-1, 6-1, and will now face for the first time No.7 seed Saisai Zheng.
No. 8 seed Magda Linette, whose serve was in danger just two times, won 84% of first serve points to defeat Johanna Larsson 6-4, 6-1. She awaits Tamara Zidansek, aiming to seal the first victory after two straight defeats. The twenty-year-old Slovene is appearing in just her fifth WTA main draw this week but, judging by her recent progress, she is likely to be a fixture at this level for years to come.
A serial champion on the ITF Circuit this year, Zidansek arrived in Japan with 50 match wins to her name for the year – results which have seen her rise over 120 places since February.