Rus­sians Svet­lana, Elena to cross swords in fi­nal

New Straits Times - - Sport -

IN­DIAN WELLS: Svet­lana Kuznetsova top­pled World No 3 Karolina Pliskova 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/2) on Fri­day to book an al­lRus­sian In­dian Wells fi­nal against Elena Ves­nina.

Elena pow­ered past France’s Kristina Mlade­n­ovic 6-3, 6-4, con­tin­u­ing a sparkling cam­paign that has seen her shock Ger­man’s soon-to-be World No 1 An­gelique Ker­ber in the fourth round and seven-time Grand Slam cham­pion Venus Wil­liams in the quar­ter-finals.

It’s a sharp turn­around from Elena’s first-round ouster in qual­i­fy­ing here last year, and marks her first trip to a fi­nal of one of the WTA’s elite Premier Manda­tory events.

World No 8 Svet­lana is back in the In­dian Wells fi­nal for the first time since back-to-back run­ner-up fin­ishes in 2007 and 2008.

She with­stood 10 aces from Karolina, who has already won ti­tles at Bris­bane and Doha this year.

“I tried my best to fight ev­ery point,” said the 31-year-old Svet­lana, owner of two Grand slam sin­gles ti­tles who en­joyed a resur­gence in 2016, win­ning two ti­tles as she re­turned to the top 10 in the world for the first time since 2010. “Karolina is one of the best play­ers this year.”

Elena, a Wim­ble­don semi-fi­nal­ist last year who has reached a ca­reer high of 15th in the world at the age of 30, said im­por­tant dou­bles wins — in­clud­ing a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics — had helped her big-match com­po­sure.

“It’s not easy to hold your nerve,” she said. “But I’m re­ally happy the way I han­dled it. I was very fo­cused. I was not think­ing about the fi­nal. I was just think­ing par­tic­u­larly about ev­ery sin­gle game, ev­ery sin­gle shot.” AFP

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