NANCHANG, China - Nao Hibino strolled past wildcard Wang Yafan 6-0, 6-2 to reach the Jiangxi Open final on Saturday, after the 22-year-old impressed against home favorite Wang, losing just two games in 69 minutes.
She will be joined in Sunday's final by a player nearly a decade her senior, as No.2 seed Peng Shuai was equally impressive in a 6-0, 6-3 dispatching of compatriot Han Xinyun.
After being taken to three sets by Zhang Kailin in the first round, Hibino has enjoyed a favorable passage into the final, having not lost a set in three matches since, including a win over Kristyna Pliskova in the second round after the Czech, seeded third, was forced to retire due to injury.
Hibino, making her first appearance at the tournament, then overcame Jin Lu and Wang in consecutive straight sets victories, losing just seven games in the process.
She had little trouble in the opening set against Wang on Saturday, breaking her opponent three times in succession to move a set ahead. World No.147.
Wang found a little more resolve in the second set against an opponent ranked 55 places higher, but was unable to halt Hibino's momentum as the Japanese made her fourth WTA singles final, and first since losing to Ashleigh Barty at the Malaysian Open in March.
In the day's second semifinal, Peng raced through the opening set in under 30 minutes, but saw her younger compatriot make a match of things in the second set. Han stayed on serve through the first six games of the set, saving break points in her first and third service games, but Peng broke through in the seventh game after she took a 0-40 lead.
Han made her last stand in the eighth game, as a five-deuce affair saw her bring up three break points in total to get back on serve, but the 27-year-old was unable to convert on her chances. Peng won the battle to hold serve, and quickly built three match points, the second of which she won to move into her second career final in Nanchang.
"At the beginning, I played my game, so everthing went very well," Peng said. "I know she's a fighter, and in her last match, she came back from one set down, so I told myself I need to be very focused. In the second set, she played a little bit slower, and my returning wasn't good. The second set was quite tight so I'm happy to get through.
"My coach went to see [Hibino's] match earlier today, so I will discuss with him tomorrow before the final. I will fight until the end for this match."