Magda Linette will play Nao Hibino for a place in the Alya Malaysian Open final after beating Duan Ying-Ying.
WTA Staff

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Magda Linette will play Nao Hibino for a place in the Alya Malaysian Open final after seeing off Duan Ying-Ying in three sets, winning 7-6, 4-6, 6-1.

An extremely tight opening set saw not a single break point against the serve and it was no surprise to see it decided by a tiebreak. And it was the Pole who grabbed the opening mini-break before a piece of extraordinary luck saw her shot, going well wide, grip the net cord and divert back in court.

Despite her first serve percentage teetering at around 50%, Linette made the most of her good fortune to take the breaker 7-3 and with it the set as Duan fired long.

The pair had met just once previously, Linette coming out on top in straight sets in the 2015 Wuhan Open. But this was a much tighter affair and it was the fifth seed who grabbed the opening break of the match, sufficient for the Chinese to take it all the way.

Although the momentum was seemingly turning towards Duan, it was Linette who took the initiative in the decider, breaking twice in the final set to make only her second WTA final and perhaps even go one better than in the 2014 Tokyo Open.

During the match, Linette appeared to be irritated by a series of close calls that seemed to go against her and after the match she apologised for not reacting in the way she should have.

"It was difficult to stay focused, it was very late," said Linette after the rain-interrupted tussle. "You go onto the court and then you go off the court. You think maybe you're not going to play the match. It's never easy like this and you could see I was very nervous and I was not behaving well but I'm glad that after the second set I could start from the beginning and actually show my best tennis at the end and make up a little bit for my bad behaviour."

She next faces the challenge of Japan's Hibino, a 7-6, 6-3 victor over qualifier Lesley Kerkhove.

"I haven't played her before so I don't know how she plays," said Hibino. "I will talk with my coach and figure out a game plan."