World No. 1 Dinara Safina and fellow Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova will contest their second final in as many weeks after winning semifinal matches on Friday to advance to the final at the WTA stop in Rome, the Italian Open.
Kuznetsova followed up a quarterfinal win over two-time defending champ Jelena Jankovic with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Victoria Azarenka. Safina advanced into the final after surviving a 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4 slugfest against Venus Williams.
“It was good [to win] in two sets,” Kuznetsova said. “But it was very difficult for me, she was hitting as hard as she could. She got frustrated and then she started to hit every ball even more.”
Azarenka was disappointed at a chance gone by to reach the final.
“Based on this tournament, I just played one good match, but I’m happy I went to the semifinals here,” Azarenka said. “It’s a pretty big tournament but I hope I can be better at the French Open.”
Safina was 0-2 career against Williams, but the elder Williams sister could not hold on to a set and a break in the second lead. Safina leads Kuznetsova 7-5 in career meetings, but lost to her countrywoman last weekend in the Stuttgart final.
CORRECTED: The No. 7-seeded doubles team of Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai won the doubles final, beating Daniela Hantuchova and Ai Sugiyama on Saturday.
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