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Palermo Final a 'Family' Affair

Sara Errani has a chance to defend her title on Sunday, against a familiar and formidable foe.

Published July 18, 2009 08:45

Palermo Final a 'Family' Affair
Sara Errani

PALERMO, Italy - Italian tennis fans can look forward to an all-local final at the Internazionali Femminili di Palermo on Sunday, as two members of the country's remarkably effective Fed Cup side do battle for the $220,000 International series title.

Defending champion Sara Errani, the No.5 seed from the northern city of Bologna, is safely through though after a hard-fought win over Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany, 63 46 61.

This time last year the 22-year-old was on her way to back-to-back titles (she also won at Portoroz the following week) and her tenacious closure of today's match suggested she's keen for a repeat. Groenefeld, naturally the better server, was let down by her delivery when it counted, whereas in the final set Errani found her first service mark 92% of the time.

Errani's opponent in the first all-Italian final on the Sony Ericsson WTA since Bogotá in 2007 will be top seed Flavia Pennetta, who comes from Brindisi in the south. The world No.15 beat 68th-ranked veteran Tathiana Garbin in the other semi, 61 61.

Twenty-seven-year-old Pennetta, who has never won a title on Italian soil, made a start befitting her ranking, clinching the first set for the loss of one game before play was stopped due to darkness. Upon the resumption she didn't mess around, and by the end had snapped up 73% of points off Garbin's second serve. 

The head-to-head of the two Italians is currently tied at 1-1. Errani beat Pennetta in the semis here last year, while Pennetta prevailed in the same round the year before at Acapulco. Should Errani win the final, she'll become the fourth player to win back-to-back titles in Sicily, after Mary Pierce (1991-92), Irina Spirlea (1994-95) and three-time champion Anabel Medina Garrigues (2004-06). For her part, Pennetta is gunning for a seventh career singles title; to date all but one have been won on clay.

Late on Saturday evening, Spanish No.2 seeds Nuria Llagostera Vives and María José Martínez Sánchez won the doubles title over Ukraine's Mariya Koryttseva and Darya Kustova of Belarus, 61 62. The 55-minute win heralds a fourth title of 2009 for the Spaniards, which ties them with co-world No.1s Cara Black and Liezel Huber in the trophy stakes.

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