Canadian teenager Eugenie Bouchard reached her first WTA final yesterday after she ended the surprise run of home favorite Kurumi Nara at the Japan Open.
The 19-year-old beat the Japanese wild card 6-2, 6-2 to set up a showdown with former US Open champion Sam Stosur, who downed American teenager Madison Keys 6-1, 6-2 in the other semi at the US$250,000 event on the hard courts in Osaka.
Bouchard and Nara, competing in her first WTA semi-final, traded breaks early on before the Canadian found her rhythm to reel off seven games in a row and open up a 6-2, 3-0 lead.
The fifth seed then swiftly wrapped up the win over her 21-year-old opponent, who is certain to improve her world ranking of 87 when the list is updated tomorrow.
Bouchard will face a tough task to claim a first WTA title against the experienced Stosur, who is enjoying another strong showing in Osaka.
The Australian, seeded third, was a losing finalist here two years ago after she won her first career title at the event in 2009.
Her serve provided too much of a test for the promising Keys yesterday, with the 29-year-old losing only 12 points in her eight service games.
“I’m very motivated,” the world No. 20 said as she goes in search of her fifth career title.
“I’m really looking forward to tomorrow [today] now. It’s going to be great to be in the final again. Hopefully, I can repeat what I did four years ago instead of two years ago,” she added.
AP, LINZ, Austria
Top-seeded Angelique Kerber defeated Patricia Mayr-Achleitner of Austria 6-3, 6-1 in the quarter-finals of the Generali Ladies on Friday to secure the final spot in the season-ending WTA Championships.
“Qualifying for Istanbul is a great achievement,” Kerber said. “It’s the reward for my consistency, though I’ve had my ups and downs and a couple of injuries this year.”
The 10th-ranked German next plays fourth-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, while two-time former champion Ana Ivanovic will take on Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland. The 58th-ranked Voegele reached the last four by upsetting second-seeded Sloane Stephens 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 7-5.
Kerber saved a break point while trailing Mayr-Achleitner 3-2 in the opening set. She then won nine straight games to lead 6-3, 5-0 before closing out the victory on her first match point.
“I was a bit nervous at the start and Patricia played really well,” Kerber said. “Then I settled and felt more relaxed.”
Ivanovic defeated the seventh-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-2, 6-4. The third-seeded Serb, who won the event in 2008 and 2010, was 3-0 down in the second set before reeling off four straight games.
The former top-ranked Ivanovic is yet to reach a final this season.
Suarez Navarro beat fifth-seeded Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium 6-1, 6-3 to reach her fourth semi-final of the season and first on hard court. Suarez Navarro won the first eight points of the match and held serve throughout.