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Safina, Kuznetsova set up all-Russian final at French Open

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Svetlana Kuznetsova came through three tough sets against Australian Samantha Stosur at the French Open on Thursday to set up an all-Russian final with Dinara Safina.

MOSCOW, June 4 (RIA Novosti) - Svetlana Kuznetsova came through three tough sets against Australian Samantha Stosur at the French Open on Thursday to set up an all-Russian final with Dinara Safina.

Earlier in the day, Safina overcame a slow start to ease into the final with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova.

The Russian world No. 1 trailed 0-2 to the 20th seed after opening the match by losing her first service game, but she then reeled off five straight games before clinching the set on her fifth set point.

Safina still struggled to settle in the second set, trailing 2-1 on serve before taking a 3-2 lead and pushing on to seal the match in an hour and 41 minutes.

Seventh-seeded Kuznetsova was made to work hard for her 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3 win, overcoming heavy strapping on her left ankle and battling through in almost 2 1/2 hours.

Both players' struggled to hold serve in the first set, with the Russian winning out three breaks to two, while each was broken once in the second set, with the 30th seed coming back from 4-2 down to take the set to a tie break, which the Australian won 7-5, sweeping the last five points.

Despite not moving freely because of her ankle, Kuznetsova steadied her serve in the final set and one break was enough to see her through to Saturday's final, the third between the two Russians in just over a month.

Kuznetsova won in Stuttgart at the start of May but Safina got revenge a week later in Rome and continued her great form by taking the Madrid Open on May 17.

It is the second straight French Open final for Safina, who lost to Serbian Ana Ivanovic last year but hit the top of the Women's Tennis Association rankings this April, and Kuznetsova, who won the U.S. Open in 2004, will have to hope her ankle improves before the final.

Unlike her opponent, Safina has never won on the biggest stage, losing in this year's Australian Open final to Serena Williams and taking the silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when compatriot Elena Dementieva took the gold.

 

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