TOKYO (Reuters) - Heather Watson will have the opportunity to become the first Briton to win a WTA singles title since 1988 when she takes on Taiwan’s Chang Kai-chen in the Japan Open final on Sunday.
British number two Watson squeaked past Japan’s Misaki Doi 7-6 7-5 in Saturday’s semi-finals and was doubtless expecting to face top seed Samantha Stosur for the Osaka crown.
Australian Stosur slipped up against Taiwan’s Chang Kai-Chen, however, the former U.S. Open champion stunned 6-4 4-6 7-6 in a thrilling upset.
British number one Laura Robson failed to end the country’s barren run when she was beaten 6-3 5-7 6-4 by Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei in last month’s Guangzhou Open final.
Watson, who pushed Maria Sharapova to three sets at last month’s Pan Pacific Open, now has the chance to become the first Briton since Sara Gomer in 1988 to win a WTA singles title.
The 20-year-old from Guernsey came from 3-1 down to win the first set on a tiebreak 7-2 against Doi and rattled off eight points in a row from 5-5 in the second to close out the match.
Watson’s best results before this week were three quarter-final appearances last year.
Before Robson and Watson the last Briton to reach a WTA final was Jo Durie in Newport 1990 - before either Robson or Watson was born.
Watson’s job looks to have been made easier, on paper at least, after world number nine Stosur’s surprise flop against Chang.
Like Watson, Chang’s best results before this week were three quarter-finals - two in 2010 and Birmingham earlier this year.
Chang is bidding to become the third player from Taiwan to win a WTA title, following Wang Shi-Ting, who won six during the 1990s, and Hsieh, who won her first two WTA titles this year.
Reporting by Alastair Himmer; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty