Sun, Sep 30, 2007 - Page 24 News List

Venus wins to set up final with Kirilenko

AFP , SEOULAP, NONTHABURI, THAILAND

Eleni Danilidou returns a shot to Maria Kirilenko during their semi-final match at the Hansol Korea Open tennis tournament in Seoul yesterday.

PHOTO: AP

Top seed Venus Williams reached the final of the WTA Korea Open in Seoul yesterday, cruising past Flavia Pennetta 6-2, 6-2.

Williams, the world's ninth-ranked player, will face Maria Kirilenko in today's final. The Russian dispatched Eleni Daniilidou of Greece 7-5, 6-0 in the day's other semi-final.

Williams took the first set in 36 minutes, but her Italian opponent, the only unseeded player in the semi-finals, put some early pressure on the top seed.

Pennetta broke the American's serve at the start of the match and had a chance to go 2-0 up, leading 40-15 in the second game. But Williams, the reigning Wimbledon champion, came back with four straight points to break the Italian's serve.

Williams conceded the opening game of the second set, but promptly broke Pennetta's serve and did not look back.

Venus, serving as fast as 201kph, went on to take six of the last seven games to secure her berth in the final.

"My leg's not feeling great but it's getting better every day," Williams said. "I don't get to play in Seoul often, so I am trying my best. My goal all along has been to win the tournament."

The deflated Pennetta frequently shook her head and muttered to herself in disgust during the second set.

In the day's second semi-final, Kirilenko had a see-saw first set against defending champion Daniilidou, winning the first three games and then losing the next three before prevailing 7-5. The Russian made quick work of the Greek in the second set, winning it 6-0.

Dmitry Tursunov of Russia defeated Fernando Verdasco of Spain 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-4 in the semi-final of the Thailand Open yesterday to make it to his second ATP tour final.

Tursunov will Benjamin Becker of Germany who beat Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in yesterday's second semi-final.

The sixth seed Russian, who won in Indianapolis in July before suffering three first round exits, avenged his French Open loss this year to Verdasco.

The two players served solidly in the first set. Each had a break point opportunity but could not convert. It was not until the tie-break that Tursunov stepped up a gear to take charge. He set up a triple set point after the Spaniard hit a backhand long and ended the set with a backhand cross that the Spaniard could not return.

In the second set, they held serves until the 10th game when the Russian sprayed two long shots to lose it.

Tursunov regained his momentum to go up a double break at 4-1. The Spaniard fought back to 3-4 and had several chances to draw level until the Russian served an ace to lead at 5-3. He lost two match points before blasting a backhand down the line winner to move into the final after a 2 hour and 27-minute battle.

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