Nao Hibino claimed her third career's WTA title by winning in the WTA 250 Livesport Prague Open. The decisive stages of the tournament in Prague got tormented with rain conditions, which resulted in the impossibility of conducting the semifinals and final up to the schedule. After unsuccessful attempts to play the matches as scheduled on Saturday and Sunday, one of the semifinals got completed on Monday morning and followed by the final match, where Hibino defeated the home crowd's favorite Linda Noskova by 6-4 6-1. It's the tournament won by Hibino since her victory in Hiroshima in September 2019.
Lucky loser is the champion
The story of Hibino's title run is unusual, considering the fact, that the Japanese had to play in the qualies to get into main draw and did not succeed to make initially. Hibino got defeated by Emiliana Arango in final round of qualies with quite a bitter lose, as she managed to win just one game in two last sets of a match ended up with a score 3-6 6-1 6-0 for the favour of her opponent.
After getting into main draw as a lucky loser, Hibino's campaign did not start much better, as she was losing 0-5 in the opening set against Sara Errani. Then, the Japanese lived a redemption, as she fought back to win this set by 7-5 and whole the match in succession. The following matches were more comfortable for Hibino, who defeated Viktoria Kuzmova and Tereza Martincova in straight sets. The semifinal against Jaqueline Cristian was scheduled to be started on Saturday, but delayed into Sunday due to rain conditions. After multiple attempts, the players managed to play two sets without a settlement and came back on court on Monday morning to complete the match on the favour of Hibino, who defeated the Romanian by 6-4 6-7(2) 6-3.
Wasted chance on the home soil
Linda Noskova managed to end up her semifinal match on Sunday and approached the final as a favorite. The 4th seed had a favour to play for her first career's WTA title on a home soil and was seemingly in a good run of form, losing just 4 games together in quarters and semis after the victories over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (6-0 6-2) and Tamara Korpatsch (6-1 6-1). Despite being a favorite and a good start while leading by 3-0 in the opening games, Noskova did not play well in Monday's final. The 18 years-old commited multiple unforced errors and did not refer to the level presented in the previous matches. Hibino has showed up with a solid tennis and turned over the first set, winning it by 6-4. The Japanese has dominated her erratically playing opponent in second set, winning 5 consecutive games since the score 1-1 and taking the title after just about 70 minutes of play.
Nao Hibino capitalizes on her title run and comes back into top 100 after quite a long time. The Japanese moves up into 84th place in the live ranking, gaining more than 50 places. Despite coming up short in final, Linda Noskova does also lift up in the rankings, moving up from 71th to 52th place in today's live rank. Jaqueline Cristian missed out the comeback into top 100 by a margin. Winning the semifinal against Hibino could assure the Romanian to be back into top 100 after suffering the injuries in last year, but Cristian came close to this achievement, being ranked 103th right now.
Delays cause the trouble
All the delays suffered by the weather conditions in Prague influence on both the finalists, who are scheduled to play in another tournaments this week. Hibino will play in WTA Challenger in Polish Kozerki, which is not a huge problem in case of a relative short distance from Prague. Noskova is in quite a bigger trouble, as she appears in main draw of the WTA 1000 tournament, which starts today in Montreal. The Czech is supposed to play against Bernarda Pera in the opening round, but has not too much time to travel and rest up well, as she needed to play in central Europe today's morning.