Quarterfinal matches were held on Friday at the EA Hua Hin Championship despite a brief rain shower and threatening conditions which delayed the first on matches. The inaugural event which is part of the WTA 125K Series, saw a mix of young rising talent and inform veterans move ahead into the next round.
Nao Hibino Prevails in Scratchy Match Against Home Player
Facing the lone surviving player,from Thailand, third seed Nao Hibino faced a difficult challenge in the streaky Luksika Kumkhum. Once a player inside the world's top-100, the Thai number one has struggled in 2015 but was able to show flashes of the form which saw her defeat Petra Kvitova at the 2014 Australian Open. Hibino struggled early on as Kumkhum used her flat two-handed ground strokes to punish the Hibino serve, keeping the rallies short and not letting the Japanese player construct points and rally. Having come back from a break down in the first set, Hibino saved multiple break points serving at 4-4 in a game which seemed pivotal to the outcome of the match. Unable to break, Kumkhum's game began to fall apart as double faults and inconsistency plagued her for the rest of the match. In the end, Hibino was able to move through to the semifinals 6-4, 6-3.
WTA Rising Star Singapore Winner Naomi Osaka Overcomes Fellow Teen in Three Sets
In a match that involved the two youngest players remaining, Naomi Osaka of Japan was able to dominate her service games from start to finish to overcome fellow big-server Fangzhou Liu of China. Although Osaka never dropped serve, hitting 12 aces while committing zero double faults, the match did not go all her way as she lost the first set in a tiebreak 6-7(4), hitting some loose forehands. Osaka was able to regroup quickly, taking the second set 6-1 and looking the more confident player in the third, attacking with her forehand to breakdown her opponent and prevail with a score of 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-3.
The victory for Osaka sets an intriguing semifinal match against countrywomen Hibino, who defeated Osaka easily 6-1, 6-0 at a grass challenger in Kurume, Japan last year. Osaka was only 16 years-old at the time and has improved quickly since, showcasing her talents at last month's Singapore WTA Rising Stars Invitational event where she defeated Frenchwomen Caroline Garcia in the final.
Remaining Seed Yaroslava Shvedova and China's Qiang Wang Round Out the Day's Winners
The only other seed to reach the quarterfinals was fourth seeded Yaroslava Shvedova, who faced Chinese number three Ying-Ying Duan, a player known for her power tennis. Shvedova was able to produce her best tennis of the tournament against her difficult opponent, controlling her service games and forcing Duan into errors with her aggressive play. Despite a late spirited comeback from Duan, Shvedova was able to pull through in straight sets 6-2, 6-4. winning 80% (32/40) of her first serve points and only dropping serve once.
The Kazakh's semifinal opponent will be Chinese number two Qiang Wang, who backed up her impressive performance from yesterday in taking out Su-Wei Hsieh 6-3, 6-2. Wang played extremely solidly from the baseline, moving and redirecting the balls of her opponent well, and was able to come up with winners of her own at times especially off the backhand wing. Known for her mixture of shots and deceptive play, Hsieh was unable to produce her best tennis in the day's shortest match.