Sunday, October 24, 2010

Kirilenko storms into final.

Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko set up an intriguing championship clash at the Kremlin Cup on Saturday, both cruising through their semifinal matches in straight sets.

Azarenka, the No.2 seed, was the first to advance, beating No.8 seed María José Martínez Sánchez, 6-3 6-3, her first win in their three career meetings. Azarenka was particularly strong on serve, losing just eight points in nine service games during the match - and holding at love four times.

"I'm pleased I could finally get some revenge against her," Azarenka said. "I was playing well today and not letting her play her game. I did some things on the court I was really proud of today too, especially the drop shots I pulled off!"

Azarenka beat Andrea Petkovic in her first match, a victory that put her in the field for the WTA Championships - Doha 2010 next week. That match went to three sets; she hasn't lost one since. "I was under pressure to qualify in that first match, but I've been so relaxed since then and have really enjoyed myself.

"This goes two ways. Some players don't need to play the week before a big tournament. For me, it's perfect to go there with matches under my belt."

Kirilenko, the No.6 seed, crushed Vera Dushevina in an all-Russian second semifinal, 6-1 6-1. She has now lost nine games in four matches this week.

"I'm very focused at this tournament and have a big desire to win here," Kirilenko said. "A lot of people came and supported me today, which gave me so much energy. When I go on court I want to show my best tennis. It's a lot of fun."

By virtue of reaching the final, Kirilenko is projected to return to the Top 20, an elite she has had nine career weeks in - next week would be her 10th. "I've been working hard with my dad for such a long time. It never pays off immediately, but this year I've played really well and I feel it's coming together at this event."

Azarenka will play her 11th career final (4-6 in her first 10) while Kirilenko will be in her ninth final (3-5). Kirilenko leads her head-to-head with Azarenka, 2-1, although Azarenka did win their most recent meeting.

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