Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas pulled off the shock of the tournament so far by beating top seed Peng Shuai of China 6-2, 6-2 at the Taipei WTA Ladies Open yesterday.
Diyas, the world No. 348, hit the ball confidently and served powerfully to sweep to victory in the first-round clash in only 1 hour, 2 minutes.
“Today I served really good, so my serve was a big weapon. Also I tried to move her a lot,” the 19-year-old said. “I just played my game, stepped into her returns, also to her serve.”
Diyas raced through the opening set, which she claimed when Peng sent a return long off a blistering serve. The Kazakhstani then broke her opponent’s serve in the first game of the second set and the writing was on the wall for Peng when she dropped her serve again in the seventh game.
Diyas, whose ambition is to be world No. 1, wasted no time in wrapping things up in the next game to claim probably her best win since she defeated former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic two years ago.
Diyas is one of a growing number of prominent female players from Kazakhstan, although most, like Russian-born world No. 25 Yaroslava Shvedova, are recently naturalized.
“Tennis in Kazakhstan is really going up, we have good facilities now, it’s getting really big,” Diyas said.
Peng acknowledged that her opponent had played well, but admitted that a shoulder problem had troubled her, especially when serving. She added that she had probably returned from injury too soon to play in Taipei.
“I really wanted to play in this tournament, as I have friends here, and I love the shopping and food,” Peng said, admitting she had a weakness for stinky tofu.
She also revealed that she was looking forward to playing doubles next year with Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei, a long-time friend.
Meanwhile, defending champion Ayumi Morita won her second-round clash against Paula Kania of Poland 6-2, 6-2, but required treatment on a knee injury during the match.
Despite heavy strapping on her right knee, Morita seemed to be cruising to victory at 4-1 up in the second set when she called for the trainer. There was a lengthy delay as she received treatment and when play resumed Morita immediately dropped her serve.
There were no further alarms, though, and the 22-year-old ended the contest in style with an ace on her first match point.
Morita said the injury had restricted her performance because she was scared of aggravating the problem, but was pleased with the way things went overall.
“I think I was serving well, returning well, so I’m very happy with the way I played today,” she said.
Morita hurt her knee during a practice session and the exact nature of the problem is not yet clear.
“I don’t have a match tomorrow, so I will get treatment and try my best,” she said.
Taiwan’s Chang Kai-chen plays Caroline Garcia today following her hard-fought victory against Luksika Kumkhum of Thailand on Tuesday night. Chang won 7-6 (7/5), 5-7, 6-2 to earn the right to face the promising 19-year-old from France, who gave Maria Sharapova a scare in last year’s French Open, before losing in three sets.
In other first-round matches Garcia beat Australia’s Monique Adamczak 6-3, 6-2 and Russia’s Irina Khromacheva defeated Alexa Glatch of the US 7-6 (8/6), 6-3.
In the second round, Japan’s Kurumi Nara beat Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand 6-3, 0-6, 6-4; Kristina Mladenovic of France defeated Thailand’s Nudnida Luangnam 6-1, 6-7 (6/8), 6-2; and Japan’s Kimiko Date-Krumm cruised past Ling Zhang of Hong Kong 6-1, 6-2.