First Title In Tashkent?
Published September 24, 2010 12:00
TASHKENT, Uzbekistan - The Tashkent Open, now in its 15th year of existence, has never had a Russian reach the final, but on Saturday, two of them will vie for the title. Making the stakes even higher, both of them will be going for their first career singles title.
In one of Friday's semifinals, No.4 seed Elena Vesnina outlasted No.5 seed Monica Niculescu, 63 36 64, rallying from 4-1 down in the third set, and putting an end to a dream week for Niculescu, who had never previously gone beyond the quarterfinals of an event.
Friday's other semifinal was also extended to three sets, with seventh-seeded Alla Kudryavtseva getting past Evgeniya Rodina, 61 36 63. With the third set knotted at 3-3, Kudryavtseva won the final three games to secure the match, her third victory in four career meetings with her fellow Russian. Rodina had also never gone beyond the quarters of an event until this week.
In her three previous career finals, Vesnina lost in Istanbul this year and Auckland and New Haven last year. This is her fifth year playing in Tashkent, with last year's semifinal showing being her best previous result. As for Kudryavtseva, before last week she had never been beyond the quarterfinals of an event, but she was runner-up in Guangzhou and now has a chance to top that result in Tashkent.
This will be the third all-Russian final of 2010, with Alisa Kleybanova topping Elena Dementieva in Kuala Lumpur and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova defeating Vesnina in Istanbul. Vesnina and Kudryavtseva have only met once before, with Vesnina winning in straight sets in Rome qualifying in 2008.
The doubles final is also set for Saturday, with Alexandra Dulgheru and Magdalena Rybarikova taking on another unseeded team, Alexandra Panova and Tatiana Poutchek. Both duos were victorious in match tie-breaks Friday, as Dulgheru and Rybarikova edged No.1 seeds Jill Craybas and Niculescu and Panova and Poutchek beat No.4 seeds Maria Kondratieva and Sophie Lefèvre.