The inaugural EA Hua Hin Championship saw two dramatic semifinal matches played on Saturday, with the crowd in the northern Thailand beach resort town witnessing two three-set comeback matches. In both matches the more aggressive player with the bigger serve was able to control their unforced error count to get past their steady opponents.
Osaka serves 17 aces in three set comeback victory over Hibino
With both players having recent success, the match between the Japanese youngsters promised was a fascinating affair. Early in the match break points were few and far between with both players holding serve easily. Serving at 4-4, Osaka was broked after playing a loose game committing her first double-fault of the match and mishitting forehands. Hibino served out the set easily and it seemed that the experience of Hibino would make the difference in the matchup. Hibino was hitting deep, attacking with the backhand and moving Osaka around the court forcing errors, showing few weaknesses which could be exploited.
The match remained tight and competitive through the early second set until Osaka was finally able to break her compatriots serve to go up 4-2. Consolidating this break with three aces and an unreturnable serve the momentum completely swung to Osaka's favor, and she would close out the set 6-3. The third set saw no let down from Osaka, who dominated Hibino with her power, playing within herself to not make too many errors and let her tricky opponent back into the match. Hibino began growing frustrated with herself and some line calls and quickly the match was over with the eighteen year-old moving on 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, hitting 17 serves and winning 28 of 33 first serve points.
Shvedova stages comeback from a set and double break down to defeat Wang
In a match that lasted two hours and forty-two minutes, the fourth seeded Yaroslava Shvedova overcame the Chinese number three Qiang Wang to win 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-4. While the Kazakh possessed the bigger weapons she also was more prone to costly errors, struggling to consistently finish off points in the early stages of the match. The first set saw Wang go up an early break only to lose it and go to a tiebreaker. Wang displayed her solid baseline game, keeping the ball deep and absorbing Shvedova's pace to win the tiebreak with the added help of some Shvedova errors. Early in the second set,the match appeared to be in the bag for Wang, as Shvedova took a medical timeout down 1-2 and then lost the next two games to go down 1-4.
Following a poor service game from Wang, the momentum of the match quickly shifted as Shvedova began looking sharper, cutting down on unforced errors, and Wang became more passive hitting more down the middle of the court. From a double break down Shvedova was able to get back on serve and send the match into another tiebreak. This tiebreak saw Wang take an early 3-0 lead and then Shvedova came back once more as Wang made poor shot choices hitting right at Shvedova at net and ultimately deflating on a double-fault on set point. Shvedova continued her higher level of play in the third set, hitting the ball well and coming to net to finish points, breaking the Wang serve once and hanging on for the victory. Shvedova celebrated with raised arms knowing she gutted out a long grueling victory in a match where she wasn't at her best. She will need to summon her best tomorrow though to take on the player ten years her junior.