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Diyas bags maiden WTA title at Japan Open on second attempt

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Diyas bags maiden WTA title at Japan Open on second attempt

Diyas bags maiden WTA title at Japan Open on second attempt

KAZUHIRO NOGI

AFP

The world number 100 had only reached on tour-level final before in her career, at the same tournament, but beat Miyu Kato to triumph in Tokyo.

Kazakhstan's Zarina Diyas overpowered local favourite Miyu Kato – both of them qualifiers - 6-2, 7-5 in the final of the Japan Open in Tokyo on Sunday to secure her first WTA tour title, having reached her only top-level final at the same tournament in 2014.

The 23-year-old lost to Samantha Stosur on that occasion, when the tournament was staged in Osaka, but never looked like ending up as runner-up again this year.

The world number 100, who beat defending champion Christina McHale in the semi-finals, took a 5-2 lead off a Kato double fault before wrapping up the opening set when one of her powerful forehands forced an error out of her opponent.

Diyas crunched another forehand down-the-line winner for a third break of the match to go 3-2 up in the second set and although Kato broke back immediately, it only delayed the inevitable.

A fourth break saw Diyas serving for the match and she converted her first championship point to win her eighth consecutive match at the tournament when the world number 171 went long with a forehand return.

Diyas back from wrist surgery

"It was a really tough match," said Diyas. "I had to work for every point."

Diyas, who had wrist surgery last year, added: "It was really tough to come back so I'm really happy to be playing again and to win a title."

Kato's own improbable run to the final was a boost for organisers after the loss of all eight seeds and the early exit of local favourite Kimiko Date in her final tournament at the age of 46.

The Japan Women's Open serves as the amuse-bouche for next week's Pan Pacific Open tournament at the same venue featuring the likes of world number one Karolina Pliskova and Wimbledon champion Garbiñe Muguruza.

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