Hibino and Vekic through to Tashkent final

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Nao Hibino will play in her first WTA Tour final on Saturday after overcoming former champion Bojana Jovanovski in straight sets at the Tashkent Open.

Jovanovski - the winner of this event in 2013 and runner-up to Karin Knapp 12 months ago - appeared on course to enjoy more success in Tashkent when she disposed of top seed Annika Beck in the last eight.

However, the Serbian could not build on that victory as she went down 6-3 6-4 to unheralded Japanese Hibino, who will now meet Donna Vekic - a finalist in Uzbekistan three years ago.

Hibino saved two early break points in the opening set and gained the upper hand by enjoying success on Jovanovski's serve in the next game.

Another break secured the first set in half an hour and Jovanovski was then broken again as she slipped 4-1 down in set two.

A determined fightback saw Hibino pegged back to 4-4, but the Japanese secured her place in the final by breaking to love as Jovanovski served to keep the match alive.

In Friday's second semi-final, Vekic was forced to come through a tight first set against Evgeniya Rodina - the highest-ranked semi-finalist - before ultimately cantering to a 7-5 6-1 victory.

Vekic, whose only WTA Tour title came in Kuala Lumpur last April, twice moved ahead in the opener, only to be broken back immediately on each occasion.

The Croatian made a decisive breakthrough in a lengthy 12th game, eventually converting her third set point, and then reeled off five successive games to book a meeting with Hibino.


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