Hantuchova into Pattaya final
Daniela Hantuchova (File)
Pattaya - Defending champion and third seed Daniela Hantuchova ended the run of Taiwanese qualifier Hsieh Su-Wei 6-4, 6-1 at the Pattaya Open semi-finals on Saturday.
The Slovak will now meet in the final fourth seeded Russian Maria Kirilenko, who won a closely fought battle against seventh seed Sorana Cirstea of Romania that lasted two hours and 28 minutes before she edged through 6-2, 5-7, 6-4.
Hantuchova took a while to get the better of Hsieh, breaking the Taiwanese in the first game but then forced to save two break points at 2-1, and eventually dropping her serve as Hsieh levelled at 3-3.
But the Slovak broke back in the next game and dominated from then on --she closed out the first set swiftly, and never looked in danger in the second.
Meanwhile, Kirilenko made the stronger start in her semi-final, losing just one point on her serve in the opening set.
But Cirstea, who had made most of the errors in the fierce baseline rallies, came out battling in the second set and her efforts were rewarded when she broke to lead 4-2.
But she immediately dropped her own serve to love and Kirilenko broke again to lead 5-4 when an attempted drop-shot from Cirstea fell short. The Russian could not serve out the match however, dropping her next two service games.
In a topsy-turvy decider, Kirilenko finally clinched her place in the final on her third match point.
"We both played very good tennis," said the battling Russian, who saved a match point in her first round and recovered from 2-5 down in the final set in her second match.
"I think I was very aggressive today and was happy with my serve, my return, and my backhand finally because in other matches I didn't play good from the backhand. I'm happy with my volleys. Everything was working."