France’s Alizée Agier was among the stars to progress to finals on the second day of the Karate 1-Premier League in Tokyo.
Agier was the pre-tournament favourite in the women’s under-68 kilograms competition at the Nippon Budokan sports hall, which will host Olympic competition next year.
She produced an impressive series of performances to reach the final, although the French athlete secured a narrow 1-0 win over China’s Li Gong in the last four.
Agier now faces world champion Irina Zaretska of Azerbaijan, who beat Austria’s Alisa Buchinger in her semi-final as she seeks a second straight triumph in Tokyo.
"I hope that I will be able to win the gold medal tomorrow,” said Agier.
"The bout against Irina will be a very strategic match; it will be a good clash to watch.
"I really enjoyed competing here in Nippon Budokan.
"Of course, I think about what will happen here next year, but I prefer to go step by step.”
Hosts Japan enjoyed a successful day with four athletes progressing to gold medal matches, which will take place tomorrow.
World champion Ryo Kiyuna qualified for a 27th consecutive final at international level after topping his pool in the men’s kata event.
Team mate Issei Shimbaba stands in his way of claiming a fifth straight gold medal.
Ayumi Uekusa produced a strong display in the women’s 68kg kumite competition as the Japanese athlete beat Greece’s world champion Eleni Chatziliadou 1-0 in a rematch of the World Championships final.
Uekusa will face the challenge of Italy’s Clio Ferracuti, who was a 1-0 winner against Finland’s Titta Keinanen.
Ryutaro Araga completed Japan’s representation in finals as he beat Azerbaijan’s Aykhan Mamayev 1-0 in the men’s under-84kg kumite event.
His reward is a gold medal match against Iran’s Zabihollah Poorshab, who was a 2-1 winner against world champion Ivan Kvesic of Croatia.
Germany’s Jonathan Horne reached the final of the men’s over 84kg event by beating Georgia’s Gogita Arkania 1-0.
He now faces Saleh Abazari of Iran, who overcame his team-mate Sajad Ganzjadeh 1-0 in their semi-final match.