Yet to drop a set, qualifier Hibino braces for Chennai Open quarterfinals

The 27-year-old Nao Hibino hasn’t dropped a set in her four matches which include two qualifying rounds. She is the only qualifier left in the main draw.

Hibino next faces either Russian Anastasia Gasanova or Britain’s Katie Swan.

Hibino next faces either Russian Anastasia Gasanova or Britain’s Katie Swan. | Photo Credit: AP

The 27-year-old Nao Hibino hasn’t dropped a set in her four matches which include two qualifying rounds. She is the only qualifier left in the main draw.

Japanese qualifier Nao Hibino continued her dream run at the WTA250 Chennai Open on Wednesday by knocking out the sixth-seeded Chinese player Qiang Wang to reach the quarterfinals.

The 27-year-old Hibino hasn’t dropped a set in her four matches which include two qualifying rounds. She is the only qualifier left in the main draw.

While she beat Wang 6-2, 6-3, Hibino felt the win was not that straightforward. “It (match) was tough. From the match score, it does not look tough. I got a huge advantage in the first and second set but she came back strongly and put me under pressure a lot. I’m proud of myself that I could refocus and fight back when she played good,” she said in the post-match press conference.

Hibino, who reached a career-high ranking of 43 in but is currently world number 145, also had to keep herself calm as Pat Cash, 1987 Wimbledon champion and Wang’s coach, was fuming for most of the match seeing his player make one error after the other. “The towel box was front of him. When I took the towel, I tried not to show anything on my face and try not to panic and be affected,” she said. 

This was Hibino’s second win over Wang in three weeks as she had scored a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory over the Chinese world number 101 in the second qualifying round of the 2022 US Open. Talking about the match-up, 

Hibino said, “I tried to play the same (way) as the last time. We both want to hit more forehand than backhand. I think I played a little bit better than her with my forehand. And I hit a lot of slice that made her come to the net.”

Coached by Eiji Takeuchi, a Davis Cupper for Japan during the 1980s, Hibino next faces either Russian Anastasia Gasanova or Britain’s Katie Swan. The 23-year-old Gasanova had upset top-seeded American Alison Riske-Amritraj in the opening round on Tuesday. “I played against Katie Swan once, a few years ago, but I don’t really remember. And Gasanova, I never played against her. I’m going to watch their match tomorrow and I’m going to talk to my coach and (see) how to play,” said Hibino.

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