TOKYO, Japan - Christina McHale's hopes of retaining her Japan Women's Open title were ended at the semifinal stage on Saturday as she was beaten by Kazakhstani qualifier Zarina Diyas 6-4, 0-6, 6-3.
Diyas, having already beaten eighth seed Yulia Putintseva and second seed Zhang Shuai to make the last four, continued her fine form as she surged to the opening set despite being broken in her first game by the American.
McHale recovered to take the second set to love, reeling off seven consecutive games. Diyas, who underwent wrist surgery last year, would not be beaten, however, and regained her composure to force her way back into the match at the start of the third set.
The 23-year-old, who had lost the pair's only previous encounter, in Strasbourg three years ago, then broke twice toward the end of the third set to complete the victory and secure her second WTA final.
Finalist here in 2014, when she was beaten by Samantha Stosur, Diyas will seek to go one better on Sunday when she faces another qualifier, home favorite Miyu Kato, for her first WTA title. She has never faced the Japanese player before.