Kuznetsova Puts Away Henin, Meets Ivanovic in Berlin Final

Posted on May 13, 2007

BERLIN, Germany - Twice in one day she was just points away from defeat, but both times she never gave up. Justine Henin was tough as nails against Jelena Jankovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova on Saturday and lives another day at the $1,340,000 Qatar Telecom German Open. Ana Ivanovic also reached the final in the German capital.

Their quarterfinal having been suspended on Friday night due to darkness at 63 44 in favor of the Serb, Henin and Jankovic took the court Saturday morning to finish the battle - and what a battle it turned out to be. Henin would win a pair of games right off the bat to take the match to a third, but Jankovic would surge ahead 4-0 in the final set, just points away from her first ever victory in their five meetings. But it was not to be; the Belgian was immaculate, winning 36 64 64.

"She played unbelievably; she didn't make a mistake until 4-all," Jankovic stated. "I'm very disappointed. But she is a champion. She is the only one I have trouble against. I have beaten all the other Top 10 players."

Later in the day, the No.1-seeded Henin faced her scheduled semifinal opponent, a No.3-seeded Kuznetsova, and the story was much the same. Although she dropped the first set and was down 5-3 in the second, she never stopped fighting, working her way back into it with some clutch play and eventually winning the second set. The two players were on serve in the third when play was called due to rain, with the Russian leading, 64 57 32. It will resume first thing Sunday.

The finalist on the bottom half of the draw was determined earlier, as No.12 seed Ivanovic notched a 43 retirement victory over unseeded Berlin breakout star Julia Vakulenko, who had to stop because of a right forearm injury. The Ukrainian was a shock semifinalist, having upset Amélie Mauresmo and Dinara Safina en route.

"It's never nice to win this way but she was injured, and I hope she gets better," Ivanovic stated. "I'm really pleased to be in the final - I have played some good tennis this week, and I'm very happy with that. This is a Tier I, so reaching the final of such a big tournament with such a great field means a lot to me."

On her potential final opponents, Ivanovic had high praise.

"Justine is a very tough opponent," she said about Henin, against whom she is 0-1. "Last time I played her was in Warsaw in 2005. She plays very well, especially on clay. I'm going to go out and enjoy my game. This is a new challenge for me.

"Svetlana is very powerful," she stated about Kuznetsova, against whom she is 1-1, having beaten the Russian at Miami in 2005. "I've played her several times and we have always have tough matches. I'll go out there and play the best I can."

Henin and Kuznetsova will resume their match at 11am local time, with the looming final taking the court no earlier than 2pm.

The doubles event also had to play catch-up on Saturday. On schedule to reach the final were Italians Tathiana Garbin and Roberta Vinci, who ousted No.2 seeds Cara Black and Liezel Huber, 36 63 105, in the bottom half of the draw's semi. On the top half, top seeds Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur were all set to play the semifinal round, but they'll have to wait for No.4 seeds Kveta Peschke and Rennae Stubbs and Russians Kuznetsova and Nadia Petrova to play their quarterfinal Sunday. Then, they'll play their semifinal, and later will be the final. (WTA)