Kazakh Diyas powers to maiden title in Japan

AP
Kazakhstan's Zarina Diyas overpowers local favorite Miyu Kato 6-2, 7-5 in the Japan Women's Open final to capture her first WTA tour title.
AP
AFP

Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan poses with the trophy after winning the Japan Women's Open final against Japan's Miyu Kato 6-2, 7-5 in Tokyo on September 17, 2017. It is her maiden title.

Zarina Diyas won her first WTA title on Sunday, beating home favorite Miyu Kato 6-2, 7-5 in the Japan Women's Open final in Tokyo.

In a final made up of two qualifiers, the 23-year-old Diyas broke Kato in the first game before a double fault from the Japanese player at 4-2 allowed the Kazakhstani to serve out for the set.

Diyas broke again in the 11th game of the second set to go up 6-5 before serving out to secure the title.

"It was a tough match and I had to work for every point," Diyas said. "I have been trying to come in more at net to make points shorter and it worked."

On her way to Sunday's final, Diyas dispatched second-seeded Zhang Shuai and defending champion Christina McHale.

Her triumph avenged her disappointment in Japan three years ago, when she lost the final to Samantha Stosur when the tournament was held in Osaka.

The 22-year-old Kato had never reached the quarterfinals at a WTA event before this tournament and her improbable run to the final was a boost for organizers after the loss of all eight seeds and the early exit of local favorite Kimiko Date in her final tournament at the age of 46.

In Montreal, Canada, third-seeded Hungarian Timea Babos edged top-seeded Czech Lucie Safarova 7-6 (8), 6-4 on Saturday to reach the WTA Quebec City final, where she'll take on Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck, AFP reports.

Babos reached her second WTA final of the year, having captured her hometown title in Budapest with a win over Safarova in the final.

Holding firm

On Saturday, Babos, ranked 63rd in the world, leveled her head-to-head record against Safarova at two wins apiece, holding firm in the face of Safarova's strong start and securing the match after an hour and 42 minutes.

Babos was under pressure early as Safarova didn't drop a point in her first four service games.

The Hungarian wasn't as flawless, but never faced a break point herself and finally earned the first break chance of the match — a set-point at 6-5.

Safarova saved it and they went to the tiebreaker, in which Babos again mustered the first set-point chance.

But Safarova battled back, and held a set-point herself before Babos closed it out on her sixth opportunity.

Babos gained the upper hand in the second set with a break for 4-3. Although she was unable to convert four match points on Safarova's serve, she wrapped it up in the next game.

Babos will be seeking a third career title on Sunday against seventh-seeded Van Uytvanck, a 6-1, 6-2 winner over Germany's Tatjana Maria.

Van Uytvanck reached the first WTA final of her career with a dominant performance that included winning nine straight games bridging the first and second sets.

She broke Maria five times and saved the only break point she faced.

The Belgian's dominance pushed the frustrated Maria into an increasing stream of unforced errors, that only made things easier for her 23-year-old opponent.


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