Japanese star beats Svitolina in Hua Hin
Nao Hibino enjoyed a career-best victory after beating top seed Elina Svitolina in straight sets at the GSB Thailand Open.
The number eight seed advanced to the semi-finals of the event in Hua Hin by overcoming fourth-ranked Svitolina 6-4 6-2 in just 78 minutes on Friday.
The 25-year-old had managed to win only three games against the Ukrainian star when they previously met in Hong Kong in 2018.
But Hibino, ranked 82 in the world, demonstrated a lovely range of power, touch and determination to take the match - saving a break-point in the third game with a daring dropshot.
She moved ahead with a break in the seventh game when Svitolina made a flurry of errors on her own service.
Her third break in succession set up the chance to serve out for the set, which she did having won an impressive 75% of points behind her first serve.
Hibino's momentum gathered pace in the second set as she earned two break points in the opening game and, although the first was missed, Svitolina double faulted on the second.
What then followed was a dazzling display of shot making as Hibino produced surprise winners from improbable angles to increase the pressure on Svitolina, who buckled to fall 5-0 behind.
She showed some nerves in closing the match out as Svitolina finally managed to get on the board in the second set, but it proved only a temporary reprieve as the Japanese sealed the encounter with an ace.
"Elina is one of the best players in the world in the world," Hibino, a two-time champion on the WTA Tour, later said. "I've watched her play on TV so many times."
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