Tokyo: Kazakhstan's Zarina Diyas overpowered local favourite Miyu Kato 6-2, 7-5 in the Japan Women's Open final on Sunday to capture her first WTA tour title.
Diyas, ranked 100th in the world coming into the tournament, overpowered her fellow qualifier and let out a squeal of delight after completing her fairytale Tokyo run with a sliced serve after 78 minutes.
"It was a really tough match," said Diyas, who reached her only previous final in Osaka three years ago. "I had to work for every point."
Diyas, who had wrist surgery last year, added: "It was really tough to come back so I'm really happy to be playing again and to win a title."
Kato's own improbable run to the final was a boost for organisers after the loss of all eight seeds and the early exit of local favourite Kimiko Date in her final tournament at the age of 46.
The 23-year-old Kazakh lost to Sam Stosur in her only previous WTA final at the tournament in 2014 when it was still held in Osaka but never looked like ending up as runner-up again this year.
Diya, who beat defending champion Christina McHale in the semi-finals, took a 5-2 lead off a Kato double fault before wrapping up the opening set when one of her powerful forehands forced an error out of her opponent.
Diyas crunched another forehand down-the-line winner for a third break of the match to go 3-2 up in the second set and although Kato broke back immediately, it only delayed the inevitable.
A fourth break saw Diyas serving for the match and she converted her first championship point to win her eighth consecutive match at the tournament when the world number 171 went long with a forehand return.
The Japan Women's Open serves as the amuse-bouche for next week's Pan Pacific Open tournament at the same venue featuring the likes of world number one Karolina Pliskova and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza.
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: Sep 17, 2017 16:07 PM | Updated Date: Sep 17, 2017 16:07 PM