ZHUHAI, China (AP) — China’s top player Zheng Qinwen prevailed against compatriot Zhu Lin 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 on Saturday to become just the second Chinese player to make the final of the WTA Elite Trophy.
The 18th-ranked Zheng needed 3 hours, 19 minutes to see off the 37th-ranked Zhu, who entered the tournament as a wild-card.
Zheng has now won eight matches in a row, including winning the Zhengzhou Open this month. She also won the Asian Games gold medal, against Zhu, last month.
Beatriz Haddad Maia will be Zheng’s opponent in Sunday’s championship match after the eighth-seeded Brazilian stormed into her first final of the year with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over sixth-seeded Daria Kasatkina.
Zheng won the first set of Saturday's semifinal in 80 minutes, which included saving six break points and then a further two set points for Zhu, before breaking in the 12th game of the set to take the lead.
Zhu responded by taking another marathon set to force a decider. But Zheng's serve was a telling difference as she powered to a 5-1 lead and then saved two break points to hold and clinch the win.
Zheng will be only the second Chinese player to play in the final after Wang Qiang finished runner-up to former world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty in 2018.
Earlier, 19th-ranked Haddad Maia maintained her perfect record this week with her third consecutive straight sets victory. The 93-minute win over 17th-ranked Kasatkina followed her opening upset victory over second-seeded Madison Keys, and then Caroline Garcia to win the group.
The Brazlian's victory came on the back of her strong serve as she won 80 percent of her first-service points and never faced a break point against the Russian.
The 12-player tournament is the first postseason event on the women’s tour. It features the 11 highest-ranked singles players who did not qualify for next month’s WTA Finals in Cancun, Mexico. Zhu was the final entry as a wild-card.
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