All-Russian Final Set in Auckland
Published January 09, 2009 12:00
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - The first semifinal was a one-sided affair but the second was full of drama, as two Elenas - Dementieva and Vesnina - secured spots in the final of the ASB Classic on Friday.
The first match of the day saw top-seeded Dementieva taking on last year's runner-up, Aravane Rezai. But Rezai's hopes for a second straight final at the International-level event were dashed as the world No.4 was in complete command from the start, needing just over an hour to prevail, 62 62.
The second semifinal was a stark contrast, as unseeded players Vesnina and Anne Keothavong went toe-to-toe for just under three hours. Vesnina would ultimately prevail, 67(3) 61 75, but the end of the match couldn't have been more tense, as the Russian squandered four match points in the final game before finally closing it out with a huge, unreturnable serve on her fifth and final match point.
"In the first and second sets I was playing a little bit up and down, so in the third set I was just trying to stay positive and play consistently," Vesnina said during the on-court interview. "I'm so happy I was able to win. I feel wonderful."
While the 27-year-old Dementieva will be playing her 25th Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles final - having gone 11-13 in her first 24 - this will be the 22-year-old Vesnina's very first, although she has reached nine doubles finals in her career.
"Elena is an amazing girl," Vesnina said of her countrywoman Dementieva, with whom she also played doubles this week. "She's a really good player. She plays unbelievable tennis. It'll be a very tough match, but I'm so excited, because it's the first final of my life and I'm playing against Elena."
Dementieva and Vesnina will meet for just the second time. In their first match, in the early rounds of 's-Hertogenbosch in 2006, Dementieva won, 61 46 64.
This will also be the 17th singles final in Tour history to pit two Russians against each other. Dementieva was in eight of the previous 16, going 3-5 in those.
The doubles final will pit Spaniards Nuria Llagostera Vives and Arantxa Parra Santonja, who won their semifinal on Thursday, against French-Italian duo Nathalie Dechy and Mara Santanglo, who beat Americans Julie Ditty and Carly Gullickson in the second semifinal on Friday.