Ranked 100 in the world - still 71 places above her opponent - Diyas denied the home crowd a Japanese success, securing the win with two breaks in each set, dropping serve only once.
Zarina Diyas at the Japen Women's Open.
"It was a very tough match today", Diyas said. "I had to work for every point". Loal favourite Kato, the world number 171, beat Croatia's Jana Fett 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 to advance as both finalists chase their first WTA crown.
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The 23-year-old Kazakh lost to Sam Stosur in her only previous WTA final at the tournament in 2014 when it was still held in Osaka but never looked like ending up as runner-up again this year.
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.
Christina won 8 out of the first 10 points to earn an early lead before Diyas broke back in game 4, converting her 5th break point.