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Nara books spot in Rio Open final

Kyodo

Kurumi Nara reached her first final on the WTA tour on Saturday, when she defeated Italy’s Nastassja Burnett in the semifinals of the Rio Open.

The 22-year-old Nara, who is the fifth seed in the $250,000 event, defeated Burnett 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. The Italian had advanced through qualifying and defeated two seeded players en route to the semifinals at the Jockey Club Brasileiro’s clay courts.

“I was very nervous in the second set, but when we started the third I just tried to focus on every point,” Nara said, according to the wtatennis.com. “I’m very surprised because it’s on clay, and I prefer hard, but I’m very excited because it’s my first final.”

Her run to the final comes just two weeks after she and her Japan teammates were humiliated on clay in a 3-1 Fed Cup defeat to Argentina, in which Nara lost both of her matches.

In her first career final, the 62nd-ranked Nara will take on 35th-ranked Czech Klara Zakopalova, the top seed, who defeated Brazil’s Teliana Pereira 6-2, 6-1 in Saturday’s other semifinal.

“It’s always tough to play in a final. Kurumi is a very talented player and she’s always improving. I just need to give 100 percent and then we’ll see what happens,” said Zakopalova, who will turn 32 on Monday and is looking for her first singles title.