Larsson Wins Swedish Semifinal, Hercog Next

Sweden's Johanna Larsson and Slovenia's Polona Hercog will both go for their first WTA title.

Published July 08, 2011 12:00

Larsson Wins Swedish Semifinal, Hercog Next
Johanna Larsson

BASTAD, Sweden - After waiting out the rain for most of the day, two of the WTA's youngest stars overcame veteran opponents to reach the final of the Collector Swedish Open, where they will both go for their first career title.

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Johanna Larsson, 22, was the first player to snap up a berth in the final, beating 27-year-old Swedish countrywoman Sofia Arvidsson handily, 63 61. While Arvidsson's powerful groundstrokes often saw her as the aggressor in the match, it was Larsson who took her opportunities on the big points, winning all four of her break point chances (Arvidsson was 0/5 on break points).

"I was really tired in the first few games of the match before the rain, but the break was absolutely perfect for me to reload the batteries, focus again and play good tennis," Larsson said. "I had some carbs during the break and felt much stronger when we came back. The rain was the best thing that could happen."

Larsson said it was difficult to play Arvidsson but she was able to put their friendship aside. "We know each other really well off the court and on the court, but you have to focus on what you're doing and put everything else aside. You have to be professional. Your job is to play tennis. I'm happy I managed that."

It will be Larsson's second WTA final, her first coming last summer over in Potoroz, Slovenia, where she lost to Anna Chakvetadze. "It was my first final and I was really nervous. I had nobody there, not even my coach to support me. It will be the opposite here - my family and coach are here and I'll have support from the stands. It'll be a completely different match and I hope I'm the winner."

Hercog, 20, followed Larsson into the final, though it was a while later. The No.8-seeded Slovenian got past tenacious No.7 seed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in a two-hour, 25-minute battle, 62 46 75. "It was a very boring day in the beginning, but in the end it turned out very well for me," Hercog said. "I'm happy to be through this match but it's very late now and I'll have to eat and sleep very fast. It's not going to be easy because you're full of adrenaline after a match."

It will also be Hercog's second WTA final. She finished runner-up to Venus Williams last year at Acapulco, also held on this surface, red clay.

Hercog beat Larsson in their only prior meeting at Wimbledon in June.

"She's a really good player, a very good fighter," Hercog said. "Of course the crowd will be on her side, but I'm ready for that - maybe when they clap, I'll pretend they're clapping for me. But I'll have my team cheering for me too."

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