Yanina Wickmayer and Magda Linette upset the seventh and sixth seeds Ajla Tomljanovic and Christina McHale respectively, to advance to the final of the 2015 Japan Women’s Open Tennis.
Wickmayer Upsets Seventh Seed Tomljanovic
In the first semifinal of the day, Yanina Wickmayer met Ajla Tomljanovic. This summer, Wickmayer has shown glimpses of her best tennis, and the form that got her to a career-high of world number 12 and a spot in the 2009 U.S. Open semifinals. It all started when she qualified for Toronto - despite losing in the first round of the main draw, Wickmayer fought back from a set down in both of her qualifying matches, to win in three. The Belgian continued that form in Vancouver, and pushed Victoria Azarenka in the second round of the U.S. Open a week later, before losing 7-5, 6-4.
This week in Tokyo, Wickmayer has had no easy road to the semifinals. After beating Katerina Siniakova and Johanna Larsson in straight sets, the world number 86 had to come from a set down to defeat the dangerous Kateryna Bondarenko. Her opponent, seventh seed Ajla Tomljanovic, has had a difficult road to this stage of the competition too. After defeating Timea Babos in the opening round - in a third set tiebreak, Tomljanovic had to battle past the ageless Kimiko Date-Krumm in straight sets. As a result, she booked her place in the quarter finals where she would face American Madison Brengle. The Croatian-born Australian struggled early on with Brengle’s flat shots but she regrouped to win 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 to set up a match against Wickmayer.
In this encounter, the first eleven games of the match went to the server before Wickmayer got the crucial break at 6-5 to win the opening set 7-5. From there, the Belgian began to dominate the exchanges from the back of the court and continued to serve well, giving Tomljanovic very few chances to break. In the end, it was Wickmayer who came out on top, winning the encounter 7-5, 6-2 to advance to her first WTA final since 2010.
Linette Upsets Sixth Seed McHale
Moments later, Magda Linette and Christina McHale took the court and were both ready to fight for a place in the final against Yanina Wickmayer. Linette has had a pretty good year so far, but mostly on the ITF Professional Circuit. Still searching for her maiden WTA title, the Pole came into this tournament, all guns blazing. It started when Linette breezed past Lauren Davis in the opening round, before upsetting second seed Zarina Diyas in straight sets. In the quarter finals, the Polish number two faced Hsieh Su-Wei, whom she dispatched in straight sets too. Her opponent in the semifinal, Christina McHale, has had a slightly tougher road to this stage of the competition. After fighting off Yulia Putintseva and Risa Ozaki in the opening two rounds, McHale found herself close to elimination when she played Zheng Saisai. The American lost the opening set before coming back to win in three.
In this semifinal, it was a much tighter affair than the Wickmayer-Tomljanovic match as both women had to work hard to win every single point. McHale’s experience and counter punching game style was enough to clinch her the opening set 6-3. But Linette, who has been playing great tennis all week, hit back to win the second 6-4, after clinching a decisive game in the final game of the set. The final set came down to who was able to hold their serve to get over the finish line. At 2-2, McHale broke but Linette broke straight back to level the match at a set and three-games-all. The next game proved to be crucial for both players as they were both so close, yet so far from the finish line.
In the end, it was Linette who was able to hold to go up 4-3. From there, the Pole managed to convert her third break point opportunity of the game to get a chance to serve for the match. Linette was not going to let this big opportunity slip away from her as she converted her first match point, as a forehand from McHale sailed into the tramlines. Therefore, Magda Linette is through to her maiden WTA singles final with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win.
In the final on Sunday afternoon, Yanina Wickmayer and Magda Linette will battle it out to win their first WTA title of the season at the Ariake Tennis Forest Park in Tokyo.