- Associated Press - Saturday, March 4, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Ashleigh Barty advanced to her first WTA singles final after beating China’s Han Xinyun 6-3, 7-5 Saturday at the Malaysian Open.

The Australian qualifier next faces Nao Hibino of Japan, who was equally fired up to see off Poland’s Magda Linette 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the other semifinal.

The 158th-ranked Barty, who dropped one set on the way to the final, served seven aces against Xinyun.

“My service game and forehand worked well,” Barty said.

Hibino beat big-hitting Linette in 2 hours, 25 minutes.

“I know how Barty plays because we played together as juniors,” said Hibino, who is chasing her second career title, after Tashkent in 2015.

Linette had knocked out the last remaining seeded player when she beat No. 5 Duan Ying Ying of China in the quarterfinals.

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