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Safina sets up Kuznetsova rematch

©

Latest update : 2009-05-08

World number one Dinara Safina outgunned Venus Williams in the semi-final of the Rome WTA tournament (6-7, 6-3, 6-4) to set up a second successive final showdown with fellow Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova.

AFP - World number one Dinara Safina booked a date with Svetlana Kuznetsova in the WTA Rome claycourt International final after an epic three-set victory over Venus Williams on Friday.
  
Safina came back from a set down to beat the five-time Wimbledon champion 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-4 in a match that lasted more than three hours.
  
Her Russian compatriot Kuznetsova had a far easer semi-final as she stormed past Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 6-4.
  
It is the second week running the two Russians will play in a final after Kuznetsova beat Safina in the Stuttgart final 6-4, 6-3 last Sunday.
  
Top seed Safina started slowly against the fourth seed, as she had done all tournament, and for the third straight match she dropped the opening set.
  
Williams had been the more aggressive and positive in that opener, hitting twice as many winners but also 50 percent more unforced errors.
  
She went up a break in the second set but Safina stormed back to win that 6-3 and set up the decider.
  
That was a see-saw affair with five breaks of serve and numerous other opportunities.
  
A backhand crosscourt winner from Safina gave her a third break and a 5-4 advantage, after which she served for the match.
  
But the last game was the most epic of all as Safina served three double faults, saved four break points and finally clinched victory on her third match point.
  
It is the second final each here for the two Russians having both finished runner-up once before, Safina in 2006 and Kuznetsova a year later.
  
But having both reached successive clay court finals it bodes well for Roland Garros, which starts later this month, although Kuznetsova insisted she's not looking that far ahead.
  
"I'm not thinking about that right now. The French Open, for me, is still too far away," said the seventh seed.
  
"For me, it's this tournament. I've been playing lots of matches so I'm just focusing on doing my best."
  
The result never looked in doubt as she dominated her Belorussian opponent from the start, breezing through the first set with three breaks of serve to one.
  
However, the sixth-seeded teenager broke Kuznetsova in the first game of the second set and looked to make more of a fist of things.
  
However, the match turned on a controversial point at 2-0 to Azarenka, when on game point Kuznetsova hit a shot that television replays showed had landed just out.
  
The umpire called it in despite Azarenka's vociferous protests and the 19-year-old let the matter get to her as she lost her way, and five straight games.
  
She rallied briefly when trailing 5-2 in the second but then a poor service game at 5-4 saw her succumb to the Russian 23-year-old after 1hr 30min on court.
  
After the match, Azarenka was still frustrated about that point at 2-0.
  
"When you don't play your best and then you finally have a chance and you're up a break and you have another chance to break again and the umpire comes and just shows you a spot where there's no mark or nothing at all and tells you that this is the mark, I think that's pretty bad," she complained.
  
Kuznetsova said her opponent should have stayed calmer in that situation.
  
"She shouldn't have got so upset just for one ball. When I went around to that side, I saw two marks," she said.
  
"One which Vika (Azarenka) showed, which was out, and another one I guess which showed it was in. I don't know which one was it.
  
"For me, it was just only one ball. She got too upset and then she got frustrated and started to hit every ball even harder.
  
"To me, she got too upset for no reason. It was just one ball in the match."

Date created : 2009-05-08

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