WTA Tour

Kuznetsova ends final absence

Svetlana Kuznetsova (AFP)
Svetlana Kuznetsova (AFP)

Oeiras - Svetlana Kuznetsova reached her first final in more than three years on Friday with a 6-3, 6-1 semi-final win over fellow Russian Elena Vesnina at the ATP-WTA Portugal Open.

The seventh-seed who owns grand slam titles from 2004 in Paris and 2009 in New York, will Saturday play the winner from Spanish top seed Carla Suarez Navarro and Romanian qualifier Irina Begu

The 28-year-old Kuznetsova last played a final in February, 2011 in Dubai, where she lost to Caroline Wozniacki. The Russian's last trophy was earned at 2010 San Diego.

Vesnina, winner of Hobart and Eastbourne titles in 2013 after losing the first six finals of her career, was completely outplayed in her 73-minute loss.

Kuznetsova struck 27 winners, breaking her good friend on five of 16 opportunities.

But Vesnina, seeded eighth and ranked 33rd, showed resistance at the end, saving four match points on her serve before Kuznetsova finally prevailed. Vesnina fell victim to six double-faults in defeat.

Kuznetsova won the opening set in 42 minutes and was barely under pressure as she moved smoothly to within one victory of her 14th career singles title.

The Russian winner began showing progress last week in Stuttgart after a slow start in 2014, reaching the quarter-finals on the German indoor clay.

Kuznetsova, who began last year ranked 71 and has now fought back to 29th on the WTA list, had lost the only other match she had played against Vesnina, in Dubai five years ago.

She was playing her first semi-final since Moscow last autumn.

Results on the fifth day of the ATP and WTA Portugal Open on Friday (x denotes seeding):

Women

Semi-finals

Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS x7) bt Elena Vesnina (RUS x8) 6-3, 6-1

Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP x1) bt Irina Begu (ROM) 7-6 (7/3), 6-1

Men

Quarter-finals

Tomas Berdych (CZE x1) bt Leonardo Mayer (ARG) 3-6, 6-4, 6-4

Daniel Gimeno-Traver (ESP) bt Marcel Granollers (ESP x3) 6-1, 6-2

Carlos Berlocq (ARG) bt Milos Raonic (CAN x2) 7-5, 6-4

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