Russian hat trick sees Safina reach Roland Garros final



Originally published on 26/02/10 11:02

Dinara Safina held her nerve to grind out a straight-sets victory against Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3 6-2 in the first of the womens semi-final of the French Open.

Safina, facing her third fellow Russian in succession after beating compatriots Maria Sharapova and Elena Dementieva, survived four deuces in the opening game of the match as Kuznetsova looked to dominate proceedings. But rather than falling behind before storming back, the tournaments comeback kid this time lead from the start, breaking in the second game and keeping her nose in front to take the first set.

Kuznetsova briefly lead 2-1 at the start of the second, but unravelled in front of a frankly disappointing Court Chatrier crowd. Safina capitalised and took the next five games to reach her first Grand Slam final.

The 22-year-old gave Kuznetsova a torrid time all afternoon, switching from her power game to a steadier, conservative strategy when she threatened to get tight as the match became hers to lose. But her forehand was firing all afternoon

Kuznetsova, meanwhile, was lacklustre, serving poorly and failing to find her rhythm on her own forehand. Clearly frustrated, she received a warning for smashing a ball into the air following another unforced error, and at times seemed to be begging the terre battue to swallow her up as her shot at the title slipped away.

By match point Kusnetsova was a shadow of her former self, screwing a forehand wide to gift Safina the match.

“It was pretty horrible. I felt pretty bad out there. I felt like I could not give her fight because I was fighting first against myself,” the former US Open champion said afterwards.

Safina, however, might finally emerge from older brother Marats shadow with victory on Saturday. “It feels amazing. I didn’t expect to get to the final. I won in two sets, which is strange for me, but I’m happy because I played well today.

But after the heroics of the past couple of matches, the Russian admits she is showing signs of fatigue.

“At 5-2 I got a little bit tired but thought, ‘I have to be aggressive or I’m going home.”

“I’m doing it for Marat and myself I’m doing it for the family. I was just taking it day by day and it’s when you least expect them that the results come.”

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