Osaka has been dominated by the “rising stars” of the WTA with seven of the eight quarter-finalists aged 21 or below. The 21-year-old, Zarina Diyas has come through from the bottom half and will play the number one seed, Sam Stosur in Sunday’s final. The Aussie has had an all-round solid week and is yet to drop a set. In the semi-finals, she defeated Elina Svitolina, 7-6(6) 6-2.
Diyas will be contesting the first WTA final of her career. It has been an excellent week for Diyas, who has notched up victories over Chan Yung-Jan, Lara Arruabarrena, Ana Konjuh and Luksika Kumkhum. Her toughest match of the week came in the quarters where she was a set down to Konjuh and also called a MTO for an injury.
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I haven’t had the fortune of watching Diyas a great deal, but she first came to my attention in 2010 when she reached the quarter-finals of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow, defeating the number one seed in Jelena Jankovic. She cropped up from time to time, but it has been this year where she has really broken through and started to produce more consistent results on the WTA tour. Her ranking has been boosted from performances at the Slams. She reached the third round of the Australian Open and the US Open, and most notably, made the last 16 at Wimbledon defeating Carla Suarez Navarro in the second round.
Stosur and Diyas have never played each other on the WTA tour. Stosur has been reliable this week as the number one seed and as much of a threat that Diyas will likely pose, I do think Sam will prevail to win her third title in Osaka.
Prediction: Stosur d. Diyas in 3 sets