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Stephens No Match For On-Song Vesnina

Elena Vesnina produced some vintage tennis to defeat Sloane Stephens in Hobart and reach her seventh WTA singles final.

Published January 11, 2013 10:29

Stephens No Match For On-Song Vesnina
Elena Vesnina

HOBART, Australia - Elena Vesnina continued her excellent start to the season on Friday with a straight set win over Sloane Stephens in the semifinals of the Moorilla Hobart International.

Like Vesnina, Stephens has impressed Down Under, drawing rave reviews for her performances in reaching the quarterfinals in Brisbane last week. However, she was no match for her inspired Russian foe, who required just 34 minutes to wrap up a surprisingly one-sided opening set.

Stephens struggled to stem the tide any better in the second either, a flurry of unforced errors gifting an early break. This lapse in concentration would prove costly, as Vesnina continued to dominate behind serve, eventually closing out a 62 62 win with an ace out wide.

"We played a close game. I played well on the break points and that was why the score went my way," Vesnina said. "She's young and upcoming and also a very dangerous player.

"I'm really happy to win in two sets and I'm pleased with my game today."

It was Vesnina's sixth win of the season and sees her advance to seventh career final. Her six previous appearances have all ended in runner-up speeches, but she is confident that it will be seventh time lucky on Saturday. 

"I've played so many finals before and I've been a little bit unlucky in the past. I'm feeling like I'm at home here and hopefully I can get my first singles win," she added.

Meeting her for the title will be defending champion Mona Barthel after she edged out Kirsten Flipkens in two tight sets.

Barthel, who is bidding to become the first player to defend the title in Hobart, made a hesitant start, dropping serve in the opening game, but hit back immediately before breaking again in the final game to pinch the set.

The second followed a similar pattern, with the players exchanging early breaks, before Barthel struck once again at the death to close out a 64 64 win.

"It's a little bit different from last year when I was coming from qualies and it was my first final," Barthel said. "This year, I was seeded and I had a little bit more experience.

"Of course, it's always excting to be in a final and to do it where I won my first WTA final is really great."

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