ANNING, China -- No.4 seed Zheng Saisai's outstanding run of form continued on Friday, as she eliminated top-seeded compatriot Peng Shuai in the semifinals of the WTA 125K Series Kunming Open, 7-5, 6-1, to advance to the championship match.
24-year-old Zheng has now won 14 consecutive matches, including a run to the title at the previous WTA 125K Series event, in Zhengzhou, China, less than a month ago. Zheng also upset Peng in the first round in Zhengzhou to pick up her first win against the former Top 20 singles player in their first five meetings.
Seven of the 12 games in the first set went against serve, as both players won more than half of the points on their opponent's second delivery. Zheng led by a break before a five-deuce game on her serve at 3-2; the fourth seed had two chances to hold, hoping for a swift first set, but Peng pulled through on her fifth break point of the game to level the set at 3-3.
Peng grasped some momentum after that, reaching set point in another protracted Zheng service game at 5-4, but the top seed was unable to convert it, and Zheng held for 5-5. The momentum firmly shifted to Zheng following that missed opportunity, as Zheng won eight of the last 11 points in the set to close out the opening frame.
Peng held in the first game of the second set, but after that, Zheng rolled to victory, upping her play by winning all of her second service points in the set. Zheng claimed the final six games of the match to emerge victorious for the second straight time against Peng and extend her winning streak.
In the final, Zheng will face 22-year-old Russian Irina Khromacheva. The unseeded Khromacheva prevented an all-Chinese final in Anning by dispatching No.7 seed Han Xinyun, 6-1, 6-3, in 86 minutes, advancing to the biggest final of her career.
Former World No.89 Khromacheva had fallen out of the Top 200 over the last year, but is rediscovering her top form in Anning, having beaten former Top 20 player Yanina Wickmayer in the quarterfinals before her semifinal win over Han. Khromacheva had five aces in the match, and broke Han six times in the Chinese player's eight service games.
After a rough first set, the Chinese player was able to hang tough in the second set, staying on serve up to 4-3. But Han could not hold on there, as Khromacheva converted her fifth break point of a lengthy game to take the crucial 5-3 lead. The Russian zoomed to victory after that juncture, holding at love to close out the match.