Magda Linette came from a set and a break down to upset No.6 seed Christina McHale in the semifinals of the Japan Women's Open Tennis on Saturday.
WTA Staff

TOKYO, JapanMagda Linette advanced to the first WTA final of her career with a hard-fought victory over Christina McHale at the Japan Women's Open Tennis on Saturday.

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After breezing through the first three rounds, Linette was made to work far harder to see off No.6 seed McHale, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. Linette's previous best showing at a WTA event was a semifinal run last year in Baku and her hopes of improving on this record looked bleak when she trailed by a set and a break.

However, a run of four unanswered games gave Linette some much needed momentum, helping her level at one set apiece. In the decider even Lady Luck was with her; at 4-3, the Pole claimed the decisive break when a lunging backhand volley looped over the net before spinning agonizingly out of McHale's reach.

A few minutes later she arrived at match point, closing out the landmark victory at the first time of asking when McHale's forehand sailed into the tramlines.

"I was just trying to be aggressive and I'm really happy it's paying off," Linette, who suffered a string of early exits over the summer hardcourt season, said. "It was a couple of tough weeks before, so I'm really happy to see the good results from all the work I do with my team."

Standing between her and the title is Yanina Wickmayer. Unlike Linette, Wickmayer is no stranger to this stage of a WTA event, advancing to her 10th final with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over No.7 seed Ajla Tomljanovic.

"She's playing very aggressively, so it often depends a lot on her and how she's going to come out onto the court," Linette said when asked about her final opponent. "Sometimes it's tough, but I will try to grind it out, run and take the initiative when I can."