MOSCOW, Russia - Samantha Stosur and Caroline Wozniacki battled into the final of the Kremlin Cup on Saturday afternoon, both surviving some inspired challengers in the semifinals of the Premier-level tournament.
The No.3-seeded Wozniacki was the first to move through, winning a two-hour, 34-minute marathon with unseeded Swede Sofia Arvidsson, 63 67(4) 64.
After a 1-3 start Wozniacki found her range, grinding her way to the first set and three times leading by a break in the second set, at 3-2, 4-3 and serving for the match at 6-5; Arvidsson broke back every time and pushed the match to a third, but Wozniacki was just too solid, breaking for a 10th time to close it out.
"It's a very slow surface so it's hard to finish the points - you try to hit harder and start making mistakes," Wozniacki said. "She has been playing very well this week, beating some very good players, and she has been playing better and better against me each time we play, too. So I really had to step it up out there.
"I'm happy to be through to the final and have another match to go."
Wozniacki is now in her 31st WTA final, going 19-11 in her first 30; but more notably she is in her first Premier final since winning New Haven last August.
No.1-seeded Stosur had her own slow start against No.4 seed Ana Ivanovic, getting broken three times en route to losing the first set, 6-2, and surviving some very tense moments as she fell behind 0-30 serving at 3-all in the second set; but her aggressive game came together just in time, bringing her nine of the last 11 games of the match from 26 33 to record a 26 63 62 victory.
"She was definitely playing quite well in the first set, getting the first good shot of the rally and putting me on the defensive - so I had to turn it around," Stosur said after the match. "In the second set I started to serve better and step into my returns, too. I really improved my movement and was able to get the first shot myself, and from there I was able to do it for the rest of the match.
"Even though I didn't win the first set, I thought I could win."
Stosur is now through to her 15th WTA final, going 3-11 in her first 14; the Australian is chasing her first WTA title of the year, in fact her first WTA title since her famous first Grand Slam title at the US Open last September.
Stosur leads Wozniacki in their head-to-head, 3-2, and she is an even better 2-0 against the former World No.1 on hardcourts (winning in the final of 2009 Osaka and in the round robin of the 2010 WTA Championships).
"This is one of those surfaces you really have to get used to," Stosur said. "Not every shot is going to feel perfect and you can't get that quick winner out there, so against someone like Caroline it's going to be hard because she's so consistent and gets a lot of balls back. I have to be prepared to stay in the point and wait until I get the one I want - I'll just have to be ready for the next ball."