New world No. 1 Kim Clijsters produced a patchy display to overcome Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi 6-1, 7-5 in the Paris Open on Saturday and set up a final with fourth-seeded Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic.
The Belgian, who made sure she would leapfrog Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki in the rankings by reaching the last four, was short of her best form, but still too good for the inconsistent third seed.
Watched by her daughter among an almost capacity crowd at the intimate Stade Coubertin hard-court arena, Clijsters stayed on course for her second title at a tournament now run by retired French player Amelie Mauresmo.
Kanepi did little to tax the Australian and US Open champion early on, surrendering the first set by netting an easy shot, but she broke back twice to go 4-1 up in the second, only for Clijsters to do even better and seal victory with a smile.
World No. 18 Kvitova earlier reeled off a succession of superb winners to crush American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-2, 6-0 and she meets Clijsters in the final in confident mood.
“Each match is different. Everybody can beat everybody,” Kvitova said.
Her expert returns and great passing shots, including one extraordinary winner when she was almost on her knees, boosted the Czech and the unseeded Mattek-Sands handed her the first set with a wild forehand.
Kvitova, 20, broke again straight away in the second set and never looked back in pursuit of a third career title, securing the win with an ace and a clenched fist to the sky.
Doubles specialist Mattek-Sands, who made the last four partly because of Maria Sharapova’s withdrawal through illness, has wowed the Paris fashionistas with her unusual knee-high socks, but her weak serve was just as evident on Saturday.
AP, PATTAYA, Thailand
Fourth-seeded Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia claimed her first title in four years after she outclassed Italy’s Sara Errani 6-0, 6-2 in the Pattaya Open final yesterday.
The 32nd-ranked Slovak collected her fourth career title, her first since Linz in 2007. The victory improved Hantuchova’s record against the Italian to 3-1.
“It was a great match. I didn’t lose a set five matches in a row, which is good news,” Hantuchova said. “It shows that I’m really focused, and physically and mentally strong in this kind of condition.”
Hantuchova used her forehand to pressure Errani from start and the 27-year-old never let her opponent into the match as she raced to a 5-0 lead in the first set in just 20 minutes.
Hantuchova hit her first two match points into the net, but converted the third when Errani’s forehand went long.
Errani got on the scoreboard with a break to start the second set, but she was unable to maintain the momentum and dropped the next four games to trail 4-1. The Italian then held her serve to win just her second game of the match, before Hantuchova wrapped up the match in 76 minutes with a forehand winner down the line.
“Today, I knew it was going to be tough, but I stayed focused and played point by point, not giving anything away, trying to get the job done,” Hantuchova said. “I was really hungry for another title.”