September 14, 2019 / 11:39 AM / 3 months ago

Doi, Hibino set up rare all-Japanese final in Hiroshima

FILE PHOTO: Aug 26, 2019; Flushing, NY, USA; Misaki Doi of Japan serves against Madison Keys of the United States (not pictured) in the first round on day one of the 2019 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Japan’s Misaki Doi upset Russian second seed Veronika Kudermetova 6-4 6-3 on Saturday to set up a final with compatriot and doubles partner Nao Hibino at the Hana-cupid Japan Women’s Open in Hiroshima.

It will be the first all-Japanese WTA Tour final in 22 years after Naoko Sawamatsu beat Yuka Yoshida in Jakarta in 1997.

Doi and Hibino are also in Sunday’s doubles final where they face Russian Valeria Savinykh and American Christina McHale.

Although Kudermetova fired down nine aces, Doi kept up with the powerful Russian, who is ranked 59 places higher at world number 48, and broke three times in the 82-minute contest.

Doi broke early in the second set to take a 3-0 lead and although Kudermetova broke back to make it 3-2, the Japanese reclaimed a break advantage before serving out for the match.

In the day’s earlier semi-final, Hibino recovered from a set down to beat Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu 4-6 6-0 6-3.

Hibino, ranked 146 in the world, was broken twice in the opening set to hand Buzarnescu the advantage but stormed back in the second with nine winners.

Buzarnescu struggled on serve and faced 14 break points, with the 24-year-old Hibino converting six to move into the final after two hours and 10 minutes.

Doi and Hibino have beaten each other twice in their careers and both are seeking their second career WTA singles title.

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris

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