Favourites set up all-Russian French Open final
Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:34
Bright sunshine and radiant red clay set the perfect scene for womens semi-final day in Paris where both favourites came through to set up an all-Russian final on Saturday.
First top seed Dinara Safina outplayed underdog Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 6-3 in a scrappy opener before seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova ended the fairytale run of Aussie Samantha Stosur in three sets.
The build-up to the first match on Chatrier mainly centred on Cibulkovas potential ability to deal with Safinas brutal power and whether the 20-year-old could deal with the pressure of her first ever Grand Slam semi-final.
Nerves certainly didnt seem to be too prominent initially, however, as the 5ft 3 Slovak broke the Russian in the first game and it seemed that her clever tactics of moving the world No.1 around could be just what was needed.
After a shaky start and a severe lack of rhythm, though, the No.1 seed quickly discovered her power and broke back to level the match at 2-2.
This break clearly got inside the head of Cibulkova as Safina stormed to a 5-2 lead by using consistent and heavy groundstrokes to avoid giving any cheap points to the world No.20.
Safina closed out the first set 6-3 and from then on Cibulkova seemed unable to make any impact on the big points, often tightening at pivotal moments.
The second set continued in similar style with savage baseline hitting and little variation being the running theme of the match.
Both held serve until 2-2 when Safina broke the diminutive Slovak before racing to a 5-3 lead. The Russian didnt loosen her grip and quickly wrapped up a 6-3, 6-3 victory.
Afterwards Safina said she feels she can still play much better, something that gives her a lot of confidence ahead of the weekend.
I think I didn’t play aggressive when I had to from the beginning of the match. Once I was down I started to play better, but I think still I have to be much more dominant on the court, the top seed said.
It gives you much more confidence when you know that you still can do much better, even without playing your best.
A disappointed Cibulkova said that she felt she hadnt given a good account of herself in her first Grand Slam semi-final. I would say that from my side it was a really nervous tennis. It was really tough to play today out there.
I felt fresh and everything and I wanted to play good tennis, but today I didn’t make it mentally and with my tactics. I didn’t really play well.”
In the second semi surprise semi-finalist Stosur put up a brave fight against Kuznetsova but eventually came up just short 6-4, 6-7, 6-3.
The Aussie 30th seed gave a fine account of herself but in the end it was the Russians power from the back of the court that proved decisive in sealing a victory that puts her in the final in Paris for a second time.
Safina and Kuznetsova have already contested two major clay court finals this season in Stuttgart and Rome.
Kuznetsova outplayed her fellow Russian to take the title in Germany on an indoor clay court before Safina came back a week later to gain revenge in Italy.