Safina, Errani Into Final

One top seed plus one defending champion equals a perfect final showdown in Portoroz.

Published July 25, 2009 09:16

Safina, Errani Into Final
Sara Errani

PORTOROZ, Slovenia - She didn't quite manage the feat in Palermo last week, but now Sara Errani is just one step away from defending her title at the Banka Koper Slovenia Open. It's a big step, though. The 22-year-old Italian, who has built a 9-0 record at the $220,000 International event, will have to defeat world No.1 Dinara Safina if she is to make it a perfect 10 and lift the trophy for a second year in a row.

Safina blitzed the pair's only previous meeting, at Stuttgart in May, but judging by the way Errani has played her past few matches the world No.38 is is ready to take it to the top seed this time. Having won her quarterfinal against wildcard Petra Martic for the loss of just two games on Friday, the Italian was almost as mean in Saturday's semis as she brushed aside Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland, 61 62.

Earlier, Safina overcame an indifferent start and a dogged opponent in Alberta Brianti, a 29-year-old who, like 19-year-old Voegele, was making her first appearance in a semifinal on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. But, while she was new to the occasion she had the maturity, confidence and crafty style to make Safina work for her win, despite the 105-place gulf in rankings between the two.

The Italian was undoubtedly helped by Safina's unforced error count, which totaled 44 by the end of the match. Having built a commanding lead in the first set, Safina allowed Brianti to break back, and the same thing happened in the second. After a game that went to deuce 10 times Safina broke Brianti, but the Italian responded by snapping her illustrious opponent's serve to love.

Still, it was not enough, and after 95 minutes of play Safina was through to her seventh final of the year, 64 63.

"I had a lot of chances to finish the match more easily," the Russian admitted. "I think I slowed down at some important moments but overall I'm happy that I could win."

The doubles final was also played on Saturday night, with third-seeded Julia Goerges and Vladimira Uhlirova beating Camille Pin and Klara Zakopalova in straight sets, 64 62. The win marks the first Tour title of any kind for Germany's 20-year-old Goerges; 31-year-old Uhlirova now owns three doubles titles, having won at Amelia Island with Bethanie Mattek-Sands in 2008, and at Budapest with Agnes Szavay in 2007.

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