Federer, Henman to clash in final

Tokyo, October 7 :

Roger Federer continued his excellent run on hard courts to beat Benjamin Becker of Germany for a place in the final at the Japan Open tennis tournament on Saturday.

The 25-year-old Swiss, who set an Open era record of a 56-match hard court winning streak earlier this year, pulled off a service break once in each set to score a convincing 6-3, 6-4 victory.

Britain’s star Tim Henman secured a final berth for the first time in two years and seven months when he came back from 2-4 down to beat Lee Hyung-Taik of South Korea 6-4, 7-6 (7/5).

Federer got off to a flying start by converting the first chance to break in the second game. Becker got a break point at 30-40 in the fifth game by charging to the net and forcing Federer to misfire a backhand, but failed to capitalise. After breaking Becker in the third game of the second set, Federer went on to finish off the struggling German. Federer improved his winning record on hard courts this season to 48-2.

Federer has made 13 finals out of 14 tournaments this season, winning eight of them including victories at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

In the women’s singles semi-finals, Aiko Nakamura kept local hopes alive by beating Chan Yung-jan of Taiwan 7-6 (7/3), 2-6, 6-4 to make her first career appearance in a final on the tour. French Marion Bartoli took the place against Nakamura when she beat her compatriot Camille Pin 6-0, 6-1.

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STUTTGART: Russian Nadia Petrova will face French teenager Tatiana Golovin in Sunday’s final of the $650,000 WTA indoor event here after both came through tough semi-finals on Saturday.

Golovin was first to reach the final, belying her tender years to overcome Swiss fifth seed Patty Schnyder 6-1, 5-7, 7-5. Golovin is aiming to win a first ever WTA Tour title but will start as the underdog against World No 7 Petrova.

Petrova overcame compatriot and second seed Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 1-6, 6-4. Petrova was formidable in her match with her booming serve in full working order and she took the first set 6-2. Petrova, who is enjoying her best ever year after winning four WTA titles, was overpowering Kuznetsova but the 21-year-old found renewed strength in the second set.

Kuznetsova broke serve for the first time to lead 3-1 and went on to win the second 6-1. The third set was an epic with countless games going to deuce and a controversial line call proved the turning point.

Schnyder looked rusty early on against Golovin and lost opening game. It got worse as Golovin won the first four games before Schnyder opened her account.

The second set saw the Schnyder up her game and she broke her opponent for the first time to lead 3-2. The Swiss ace levelled with a brilliant drop shot clinching the second set. Both players lost their serve in a pulsating third set but Golovin broke Schnyder at 6-5 to win the match with the Swiss player dropping the ball into the net.