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Zhang Cruises Into Ningbo Final

Zhang Shuai had a smooth path into the Yinzhou Bank International Women's Tennis Open final, while Bojana Jovanovski survived a major test.

Published September 26, 2013 12:00

Zhang Cruises Into Ningbo Final
Zhang Shuai

NINGBO, China - Zhang Shuai's newfound dominance was on full display on Thursday in securing a berth in the final of the Yinzhou Bank International Women's Tennis Open.

A week after dropping just two games to Yvonne Meusburger in the semifinals of Guangzhou en route to her first WTA title, Zhang surrendered just one more in a 63 60 rout of the fourth-seeded Austrian. Interestingly enough, Zhang lost the first three matches in their series in straight sets and now has won three straight in straight sets.

"I'm happy with my performance today," Zhang said. "She's a great player with a lot of experience and never gives up. I've lost several times to her. It's very difficult to beat her, and I'm so happy to beat her in consecutive weeks. She played really well today and I'm very happy I got through.

"I've been playing really well recently. It's unbelievable that I've kept winning for two weeks."

Zhang's competition in the final gets tougher in the form of No.1 seed Bojana Jovanovski. A defeat of the World No.41 would be Zhang's second-best professional win in terms of ranking. Her best was an upset of World No.1 Dinara Safina at Beijing in 2009 when she was ranked No.226, making her the lowest-ranked conqueror of a reigning World No.1 in WTA history.

Jovanovski's semifinal victory was much more dramatic than Zhang's, as the Serb trailed Johanna Larsson, 64 53, and Larsson took a 30-0 lead when she served for the match at 64 54. But Jovanovski rallied to force a tie-break, which she won, and trailing 4-3 in the third set reeled off the last 10 points of the match for a 46 76(2) 64 triumph.

"I've played a lot of matches in the past few weeks, so I think that caught up to me and I was a little bit tired today," Jovanovski said. "But I fought until the end and I found my game at the end of the second set and started to play really aggressively. In the third set, we both played great with some really good points. I was maybe a little bit lucky in the end to win the match."

Zhang and Jovanovski have never squared off, with both coming into Friday's final red hot. Zhang has won nine straight matches, each of them in straight sets, while Jovanovski has won 10 of her last 11.

"She's one of my best friends on the tour," Jovanovski said. "It will be difficult to play against a friend. I will try to play my best and the better player will win."

Zhang is also through to the doubles final, where she and Chan Yung-Jan will take on Irina Buryachok and Oksana Kalashnikova.

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