Unseeded Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai recorded her second win over a former No. 1-ranked player Friday at the Istanbul Cup, beating top-seeded Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-4 to advance to the final against Russian Elena Dementieva.
Rezai earlier in the week beat Venus Williams in the second round.
“I am very happy about defeating Sharapova,” Rezai told local television. “Dementieva is a more experienced player than me…I believe that I will play better tomorrow.”
Sharapova’s serving problems continued this week, with the leggy Russian throwing in seven double faults during the contest.
“I am glad that I came here and I played a few matches before Roland Garros, though it is unfortunate to lose in the semifinals,” Sharapova said. “I have been working very hard in the last weeks.”
Dementieva had commented earlier this month that she had considered retirement after suffering a stress fracture of three ribs that were slow healing.
The 20-year-old Rezai, ranked No. 62, will meet Dementieva in Saturday’s final after the Russian beat Alona Bondarenko 7-6(5), 6-2 in her semifinal.
Rezai is seeking her first WTA title.
“It is the best result of my career — this is the fruit of my work,” Rezai said.
In March Rezai and her father-coach Arsalan were banned from Roland Garros for two years, except to play the French Open, following allegations of violent behavior towards the French Fed Cup captain by the father.
The 20-year-old was told she can not use the facilities at the home of the French Open throughout the year, but can still compete at the tournament. Her father is banned from not only the venue but also all tournaments organized by the French Tennis Federation. Arsalan mixed it up with France’s Fed Cup captain Georges Goven, with whom he reportedly had a violent altercation in February.
As a junior Rezai was banned from playing French tournaments for a year after her father threatened the father of another rival junior.
Next week in Roland Garros the unseeded Rezai will face No. 18-seeded Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli in the first round, with a potential third-round meeting with Dementieva.
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