Taiwan’s Chang Kai-chen reached the final of the OEC Taipei WTA Ladies Open yesterday, bouncing back to beat Misaki Doi of Japan 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-1.
Chang will play Kristina Mladenovic for the singles title at the Taipei Arena after the 19-year-old Frenchwoman defeated Japan’s Kurumi Nara 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 in the other semi-final.
Chang started well in front of an enthusiastic crowd yesterday before No. 7 seed Doi recovered to take the first set into a tie-break. The 21-year-old Japanese left-hander then chose the perfect time to serve her only ace of the match, leaving her with three set points. Chang served a double-fault on the first to leave her facing a tough battle to stay in the tournament.
The second set was another hard-fought affair, but Chang claimed it on her fourth set point when a blocked return from Doi landed wide.
The Taiwanese immediately broke her opponent’s serve in the first game of the third set and then took control. Doi was broken again in the fifth game, while Chang only dropped two points on serve in the entire set.
Chang battled back from 0-40 down in the seventh game and Doi was forced to save two match points. On the third, Doi hit a forehand that was called out. Chang held her breath as Doi challenged the call, but Hawk-Eye proved the line judge correct and the 21-year-old from Taoyuan was in the final.
Chang said that winning the second set proved to be a turning point.
“[After] I won the second set all the momentum was on my side,” the No. 5 seed said. “Of course with the crowd [behind me] I thought I could push the momentum harder ... so I played the third set very well.”
Chang is now only one win away from becoming the first Taiwanese singles champion at the Taipei Arena since Chan Yung-jan in 2009.
Although Chang will be making her first appearance in the Taipei tournament’s singles final today, she has won the doubles title, having teamed up with compatriot Chuang Chia-jung to beat Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan and Sania Mirza of India three years ago.
In yesterday’s first match, the unseeded Nara gave Mladenovic a fright before succumbing in three sets. The first was close until Nara dropped her serve in the eighth game, after which Mladenovic did not lose another point, claiming the set in emphatic style with an ace.
The second set was also tight, three consecutive breaks of serve leaving Nara 5-3 ahead. A mis-hit forehand from the No. 4 seed that landed long on Nara’s first set point meant a decider was needed.
Mladenovic looked dead and buried at 0-3 down in the third after dropping her fourth consecutive service game, but staged a remarkable rally to end her opponent’s hopes of a first WTA title.