Kuznetsova to face Safina in final

Tokyo, September 20:

Dinara Safina and Svetlana Kuznetsova set up an all-Russian final with crushing wins at the Pan Pacific Open tennis tournament on Saturday. Safina enjoyed her first victory over compatriot Nadia Petrova 6-1,

6-0, while Kuznetsova brushed aside Slovenian qualifier Katarina Srebotnik 7-6 (7/5), 6-2.

Kuznetsova, who beat Serbian top seed Jelena Jankovic in the quarter-finals, got off to a sluggish start by losing her service in the opening game. But the 2004 US Open champion forced the tie-breaker and cashed in on her second set point with a forehand volley. Srebotnik, who upset Beijing Olympic gold medallist Elena Dementieva of Russia on Friday, recovered from a break down in the second set to make it 2-2. But Kuznetsova reeled off four games in a row and sealed the win on serve on on her fourth match point. “I’m very happy

to be in the final. Obviously I was not expecting to do so well as I was very tired coming from the Fed Cup,” said Kuznetsova, who helped Russia beat Spain in the women’s team final a week ago.

However, she said she would need to improve her serving in Sunday’s final after matching her six aces with six double faults. “My serve has never been very good, so I don’t have expectation on my serve like too many aces,” said Kuznetsova. “If it doesn’t work (tomorrow), I have another way to play, fight for points. It’s going to be be very important to serve better.”

Safina, 22, meanwhile savoured her first success in six attempts against Petrova. “There is always first time for everything in your life, so it was my first time to beat her,” said Safina.

“I’m actually feeling very good. Today everything went my way, I was serving really good and I think everything was perfect today.” When asked about the final against Kuznetsova, she said: “It’s great. We are good friends, so I just hope that we can go out there and play a good match. Let’s see who is going to be stronger tomorrow and win.”

Guangzhou Open

GUANGZHOU: World number nine Vera Zvonareva charged into the Guangzhou Open final with a hard-fought victory over China’s Zheng Jie and will meet another Chinese, Peng Shuai, in the decider.

The Russian top seed, searching for her second title of the season after winning in Prague in

May, came through a tough challenge from third seed Zheng before grinding out a 6-3, 7-5 win.

Zvonareva, who won singles bronze at the Olympics in August and followed

it up by helping Russia claim the Fed Cup title earlier this month, now faces Peng, who has never won a WTA Tour title before. Seeded fourth here, Peng brushed aside France’s Camille Pin 6-2, 6-1.