Safina reaches final | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 06, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 06, 2008

French Open

Safina reaches final


Russian player Dinara Safina is ecstatic after beating compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova during their French Open semifinal at Roland Garros in Paris on Thursday.Photo: AFP

Russia's Dinara Safina moved one victory away from joining big brother Marat as a Grand Slam title winner when she reached the French Open final on Thursday.
The 13th seed saw off fourth-seeded compatriot, and overwhelming favourite, Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-2 and will face either Ana Ivanovic, the second seed, or third seed Jelena Jankovic, both of Serbia, in Saturday's final.
Marat Safin won the US Open and Australian Open titles before his career went into steep decline and few would begrudge his little sister from triumphing in what will be her first Grand Slam final.
In both her previous rounds, the 22-year-old saw off top seed Maria Sharapova and Elena Dementieva by mounting comebacks from a set and 2-5 down, as well as saving a match point in each.
"This is for me, Marat and all of my family," said Safina whose brother never got beyond the semifinals at Roland Garros.
"At 5-2 in the second set and 0-30 down I got a little tight. But I told myself to be more aggressive or she would take control.
"I never expected to get to the final, but sometimes when you least expect it, the results come."
Safina survived a lengthy test of her opening service game and then broke to lead 2-0.
In a first set which featured five breaks in nine games, Safina was the cooler of the two players when the crucial moment arrived.
A Kuznetsova forehand error gave her a 5-3 lead and she set up set point with a sweet backhand drop shot while Kuznetsova was pinned at the back of the court, claiming the opener when the fourth seed steered another simple forehand wide.
It was the first set the 22-year-old Kuznetsova had dropped at Roland Garros this year.
The pair exchanged breaks again in the first two games of the second set before Safina nipped ahead to lead 3-2.
An out-of-sorts Kuznetsova picked up a violation for launching a ball, baseball-style, into the upper tiers of the Court Philippe Chatrier as her frustrating afternoon continued.
Safina had proved her claycourt credentials in the run-up to Roland Garros by winning the prestigious Berlin tournament, claiming the scalps of former world number one Justine Henin and Serena Williams along the way.
That confidence-boosting performance helped her get through a nervy sixth game before she again broke a flailing Kuznetsova to lead 5-2.
She wrapped up the semifinal when Kuznetsova unleashed another forgettable forehand.

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