- Associated Press - Friday, September 15, 2017

TOKYO (AP) - Defending champion Christina McHale of the United States advanced to the semifinals of the Japan Women’s Open by beating third-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium 6-4, 6-1 on Friday.

“I felt like once I won that first set, I relaxed a little more in the second,” McHale said. “I served better in the second set so was able to hold serve more.”

McHale next faces qualifier Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan, who beat eighth-seeded compatriot Yulia Putintseva 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.

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Two more qualifiers reached the semis.

Miyu Kato of Japan beat Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia 6-1, 6-3 and will face Jana Fett of Croatia, who knocked out top-seeded Kristina Mladenovic this week. Fett beat Wang Qiang 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.

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