PATTAYA CITY, Thailand - Maria Kirilenko put on a scintillating display of all-court tennis in the semifinals of the PTT Pattaya Open on Saturday, storming past Sorana Cirstea in straight sets to make the final of the International-level event. Standing between her and the title will be Sabine Lisicki.
The No.2-seeded Kirilenko came out firing against the No.3-seeded Cirstea, winning the first eight games of the match for a 60 20 lead; Cirstea got on the board with two quick games from there, closing to 60 22, but Kirilenko caught fire again, reeling off four games to close the match out, 60 62.
Kirilenko is through to her 12th WTA final, going 5-6 in her first 11. She has reached most of those finals in Asia, now seven to be exact (winning titles at Beijing in 2005, Kolkata in 2007 and Seoul in 2008, and finishing runner-up at Hyderabad in 2004, Seoul in 2007 and here in Pattaya City last year).
Earlier in the day, No.5 seed Lisicki put an end to unseeded Nina Bratchikova's run through the draw, blasting eight aces en route to a one-hour, 30-minute win over the hard-hitting Russian, 75 63.
"I didn't have the rhythm on my serve in the first set, but in the second set I found it again," Lisicki said. "Nina hit some big serves today too - sometimes it was also skipping off the line, not much you can do there - but I did a pretty good job to win and play well in the important moments in the match."
Lisicki has moved through to the sixth WTA final of her career, going 3-2 in her first five.
Kirilenko and Lisicki will be playing for the third time, but for the first time in a WTA main draw - it will also be the first time in four and a half years they will have played at all (Kirilenko won both previous meetings, at an ITF Women's Circuit event in 2007 and in the qualifying of Cincinnati in 2008).
Lisicki will try to reverse a dubious pattern against Top 15 players - she has lost 13 of her last 14 meetings with that ranking class, her only win against the Top 15 since July 2011 coming at Wimbledon last summer (though it was a big one - she beat then-World No.1 Maria Sharapova in the fourth round).