Morita had been the talk of the tournament going into the final. She scored thrilling comebacks in back-to-back matches earlier in the week, saving seven match points in her second round match against Petra Martic and another match point against Anna Schmiedlova in the quarterfinals. After a straight set semifinal win over Jarmila Gajdosova, she was a win away from completing a miracle title run.
But in the end it just wasn't to be for the No.4-seeded Morita, as after dropping the first set to the No.3-seeded Zhang, 6-4, she was forced to retire from the match because of a left hamstring injury.
"At 4-3 when I was leading I suddenly couldn't push my left leg, and I am sorry I have to retire," Morita said. "It has been a tough week for me. I had a couple of good, long matches. I tried but I could not continue today - but I am satisfied with my result here in Nanjing, and it is a very nice tournament."
"I was quite surprised to see Ayumi retiring, because it was very tight for that set - I feel sorry for her," Zhang said. "But I'm glad I won Nanjing. I have been working hard and I'm happy I made it."
Zhang has had an absolute breakthrough fall, winning 19 of 23 matches, a stretch that includes her first WTA title at Guangzhou and now her first WTA 125K Series title in Nanjing. Her season isn't over yet either - she will be the No.3 seed again at the WTA 125K Series tournament in Taipei this week.
Zhang came back a little later for the doubles final, though that one didn't go her way - seeded No.1 alongside Yaroslava Shvedova, she fell to the unseeded pairing of Misaki Doi and Xu Yi-Fan, 61 64.
The first two WTA 125K Series events took place last fall, with Kristina Mladenovic winning in Taipei, Chinese Taipei and Elina Svitolina winning in Pune, India. This was the fourth WTA 125K Series event this year, with Lara Arruabarrena winning in Cali, Colombia, Shahar Peer winning in Suzhou, China, Bojana Jovanovski winning in Ningbo, China, and now Zhang coming out on top in Nanjing, China.
The last WTA 125K Series event of the year takes place this week in Taipei - where it all began.