Wimbledon 2010: Vera Zvonareva makes maiden Slam final
Wimbledon Championships Venue: All England Club, London Date: 21 June - 4 July Coverage: Live on BBC One and Two, HD, Red Button, BBC Sport website (UK only), Radio 5 live, 5 live sports extra; live text commentary online and on mobile phones; watch again on BBC iPlayer
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Impressive Zvonareva beats Pironkova
By David Ornstein
BBC Sport at Wimbledon
Vera Zvonareva came from a set down to end Tsvetana Pironkova's fairytale run and advance to the Wimbledon final.
The Russian 21st seed won 3-6 6-3 6-2 and will face world number one Serena Williams in the final on Saturday.
World number 82 Pironkova, who stunned Venus Williams in the last eight, was aiming to become the first unseeded woman to reach the SW19 showpiece.
But Zvonareva eventually overwhelmed the talented Bulgarian and can now look forward to her maiden Grand Slam final.
"At the moment it's not easy to realise what I've achieved," Zvonareva told BBC Sport straight after her one hour and 46-minute triumph. "It was very tough out there because she started so well.
"I'm happy with the way I managed to hang in and turn it round. It was important to put the first set behind me and concentrate on my game - I needed to be quicker and more aggressive.
"It was very tough because I knew if I gave her chances she would take them. To reach the final is very exciting, it's always been one of my dreams to be out there."
Dream to make Wimbledon final - Zvonareva
Zvonareva becomes the second lowest-ranked Wimbledon finalist since computer rankings were introduced in 1975.
That said, she is set to return to the world's top 10 - where she was a regular fixture in 2008-2009 before suffering wrist and ankle injuries - when the new rankings come out on Monday.
The 25-year-old Muscovite was ultimately good value for her victory, but only after a first set in which she was dominated by her unfancied opponent.
"I felt pretty good, I felt confident," said Pironkova. "I started really well but Vera started to play amazingly in the second set and in the third. I tried every point, every game, but she was playing very aggressive and pushing me all the time.
"It was a huge experience for me. Reaching the semi-finals of Wimbledon is like a dream to me. I wanted to go to the final, but I guess it didn't happen this year."
Pironkova had never previously made it past the second round of a Grand Slam or even won four successive main draw matches at a Tour-level event.
She lost to British teenager Heather Watson in qualifying for June's Aegon International in Eastbourne and arrived on Centre Court as the firm underdog.
Yet a 6-0 6-2 demolition of Zvonareva in their only other meeting would have filled her with confidence and, although this was easily the biggest match of her career, she got off to a nerveless start.
Utilising her heavy serve and crunching backhand, Pironkova pinned Zvonareva to the baseline early on and drew gasps from the crowd in the process.
She was performing with total conviction and constructing delightful combinations, which helped her race to 0-40 in game six and convert her second break point when a forehand crept over with the aid of a net-cord.
A slightly passive Zvonareva was struggling to cope with Pironkova's angled groundstrokes and unpredictable changes of pace, and the 22-year-old was able to comfortably serve out the first set.
Pironkova, the first Bulgarian to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals, was halfway to creating more history but the occasion seemed to get the better of her and Zvonareva turned the screw.
She served notice of her intent by pushing Pironkova to deuce in game four of the second set, and then pounced in game six with a delightful forehand put-away following an enthralling rally on break point.
Attacking with increased aggression and moving far more smoothly, Zvonareva was pulling Pironkova all over the place and levelled the match with a net-cord of her own before breaking in game one of the third set.
From there on in it was fairly plain sailing for Zvonareva, who varied her game beautifully to force the double-break for a 4-1 lead and, after saving two break-back points in game six, confirmed her place in the final with a unstoppable forehand.
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