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Page last updated at 16:41 GMT, Thursday, 4 June 2009 17:41 UK

Kuznetsova sets up Safina final

Venue: Roland Garros Date: 24 May - 7 June
Coverage: Live on BBC Red Button, live streaming and daily text commentary on BBC Sport website, commentary on BBC 5 Live Sports Extra, plus updates on BBC Radio 5 Live. TV coverage on Eurosport.

Dinara Safina

Highlights - Safina into French final (UK users only)

Svetlana Kuznetsova overcame a wobble to see off Sam Stosur 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 and book an all-Russian French Open final against top seed Dinara Safina.

Seventh seed Kuznetsova served for the match in the second set and then squandered a 5-2 lead in the tie-break, but recovered her nerve in the decider.

Safina capitalised on a series of costly errors from Dominika Cibulkova to win a scrappy match 6-3 6-3.

"I really want to win it," admitted Safina. "I am more and more tense."

The big-hitting Russian made 24 unforced errors and faced eight break points, but Cibulkova could only capitalise on one.

The 23-year-old knows she will need to play much better if she is to win her first Grand Slam title on Saturday.

"I'm trying to control my emotions. I'm not playing my best, but still it's not easy to beat me," said the Russian, who reached the final in Paris last year and was also a beaten finalist at the Australian Open this year.

"It wasn't an easy match and I felt tight throughout. I wasn't doing anything at the start. She was making me run all about the court so I just told myself I have to start hitting my shots and going for the angles.

"I had a great experience here last year and I just need to do a little bit better. I am just going to go for it."

Cibulkova, who thrashed Maria Sharapova to reach her first Grand Slam semi-final, made the perfect start by breaking serve in the first game.

However, from 2-0 down, Safina reeled off five games in a row before wrapping up the first set in 49 minutes.

Several games in the second set went to deuce, but Safina's experience proved key as she won the vital points to advance to Saturday's final.

"I was nervous in the beginning and never played that well but it's my first semi-final of a Grand Slam and I tried to do my best," said 20-year-old Cibulkova.


Kuznetsova looked set to cruise into her second French Open final when she took a 6-4 5-4 lead against Stosur, the tournament's surprise package.

But the Russian, who lost the 2006 final to Justine Henin, was pegged back to 5-5 and then saw a 5-2 lead in the tie-break slip away as Stosur battled back, partly thanks to two fabulous forehand winners.

The 25-year-old Australian had a break point which would have given her a 3-2 lead in the decider, but Kuznetsova saved it and put together a three-game run which proved decisive, sealing victory after two hours and 25 minutes.

"I stayed tough in the the third set," said the seventh seed, who needed treatment on an ankle injury.

"I played from my heart and I really enjoyed doing that."

Despite defeat, Stosur will be rewarded for her run with a place in the world's top 20 when the rankings are published on Monday.

"I thought I handled the occasion very well. I gave it my best shot and wasn't overawed," she said.

"I tried until the past point, but when you are a break down in the last set, it can be very hard."

Svetlana Kuznetsova

Highlights - Kuznetsova labours against Stosur

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see also
French Open day 12 as it happened
04 Jun 09 |  Tennis
French Open day 12 pictures
04 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Kuznetsova too strong for Serena
03 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Safina fights back to reach semis
02 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Order of play
23 May 09 |  Tennis
Women's singles draw
28 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Men's singles draw
26 Aug 11 |  Tennis

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