World No. 4 Elena Dementieva and Elena Vesnina took differing paths to victory yesterday to set up an all-Russian ASB Classic final.
Top seed and Olympic champion Dementieva took just over an hour to sweep aside the semi-final challenge of France’s Arivane Rezai — the beaten finalist in Auckland last year — with a 6-2, 6-2 victory.
Rezai dropped serve in the opening game, but broke back in the next with her characteristic powerful ground strokes deep into her opponent’s court. But the class of the Russian soon asserted itself and the world 97th ranked player had no answer.
As Rezai fell further behind she adopted a high risk catch up strategy that didn’t come off.
“She was going for winners and that’s why she missed sometimes,” Dementieva said. “It’s very hard to stay in the long rallies by hitting so hard.”
But unseeded Vesnina found her path to the final much harder, losing the first set 6-7 (3/7) against Britain’s Anne Keothavong, before winning the next two 6-1, 7-5 in just under three hours.
The decisive set provided plenty of tension, with both players slugging it out from the baseline, although there were plenty of unforced errors as they tired.
The 22-year-old world No. 76 could not convert four match points and survived two break points against Keothavong before clinching the decisive game with an unplayable booming serve.
Vesnina appreciates the final — her first in a WTA event — against her 27-year-old friend and doubles partner will be an uphill battle.
“For me, it’s going to be a very tough match, because I’m going to have to work for every point,” Vesnina said. “I just need to be very consistent and I think I have to be aggressive.”