Gisela & Arantxa Cruise Into Acapulco Final

No Argentine or Spaniard has won Acapulco in its 11 years on the WTA - that will change Saturday.

Published February 25, 2011 12:00

Gisela & Arantxa Cruise Into Acapulco Final
Gisela Dulko

ACAPULCO, México - Gisela Dulko and Arantxa Parra Santonja had forgettable starts to 2011 but have both come alive on the clay of Acapulco, fighting through their first three rounds then cruising past their semifinal opponents Friday to reach the final of the popular International-level stop.

Parra Santonja, who was 0-4 on the season before coming here, was the first to advance. The No.6-seeded Spaniard crushed Johanna Larsson, 62 60.

"I played unbelievable today," Parra Santonja said. "I was solid and hardly made any mistakes. I enjoyed the match a lot and hopefully I can do that again in the final. I don't mind who I play - it will be a tough match either way."

Next for Parra Santonja is No.4 seed Dulko, who recorded a similar win over Anabel Medina Garrigues, taking an hour and nine minutes to prevail, 60 62.

"It feels great to be in a singles final again," Dulko, the world's No.1 doubles player, said. "It's even better to do it here in Acapulco because I feel so much support here. They make me feel like I'm at home. I've always loved it here."

Medina Garrigues, who was ranked just outside the Top 30 a year ago, is now No.92 in the world after a difficult last several months - she came into Acapulco having lost first round in her last 10 WTA main draws. But she changed all that here, an upset over No.1 seed Julia Goerges highlighting her revival.

"I'm really happy. I didn't have a very good end of season last year and also the Australian season," Medina Garrigues. "I beat two great players here, Julia and Carla, so I hope this gives me some confidence to lift me up again the rest of the year. I think Gisela just played too well today but I'm still happy."

"It was the best match of the tournament for me," Dulko said. "Anabel is a great competitor. She was giving it her all until the end but I played very well today."

Parra Santonja leads Dulko in their head-to-head series, 1-0. That meeting came on this same surface, red clay, but it was almost eight years ago.

"It will be tough," Dulko said. "Arantxa is playing well and hits the ball really hard. She's a very complete player. It's going to be a final and I'll try to enjoy it."

Dulko is playing in her eighth WTA final, going 3-4 in her first seven; Parra Santonja is in her second WTA final, losing that first one (at Estoril last April).

Parra Santonja is the first Spaniard in the 11-year history of this tournament to make the final; Dulko isn't the first player from Argentina to make the final here but she is trying to be the first Argentine to win it (Paola Suárez was a runner-up in 2002 and Mariana Díaz-Oliva was a runner-up in 2003).

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