| By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff

New Jersey native and defending champion Christina McHale advanced to the semifinals of the Tokyo Open on Friday, downing third-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium 6-4, 6-1.

McHale converted on five of six break point chances and won 71 percent of the points on her serve to win the straight-sets match in one hour and six minutes.

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

Up next for McHale, currently ranked 62nd in the world, is Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas. The qualifier knocked off her compatriot Yulia Putintseva 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 in her quarterfinal match on Friday.

The other semifinal will see Japan’s Miyu Kato play Jana Fett of Croatia.