Russian Maria to clash with Ukranian namesake for Sunfeast title

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Kolkata, Sep 22 (UNI) Fourth seed Russian Maria Kirillenko set up a title clash with Mariya Koryettseva in the final of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tier III Sunfeast Open 07 here tomorrow.

This edition of the Sunfeast Open looked jinxed for the seeded players. The top half of the draw vanished within the first day with top seed Marion Bartoli and fifth seed Alla Kudryavtseva making shock exit. Two other seeds Alize Cornet and Sania Mirza had pulledout.

With half the sheen from the tournament gone, much was expected off the bottom half and they didn't disappoint.

The match that fourth seed Maria Kirillenko dished out against second seed Daniela Hantuchova would be remembered for its tremendous rearguard action. The Russian won 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, a sweet revenge for the defeat on all three occasions the duo met before.

In the first semi-final Mariya Koryettseva overcame a higher ranked Anne Keothavong to book her first-ever WTA tour final berth at the Sunfeast Open here today, The 164 th ranked Ukrainian got past the 144th ranked Briton 7-6 (7-3), 6-3.

The Daniela-Kirillenko tie was a classic that unraveled with each point, each rally and each counter attack launched by the Caucasian duo.

The first set saw both the seeds holding on to their serves fighting of deuce in almost every game, till the ninth. The ninth saw a moment's aberration from Kirillenko, who after fighting off a love-40 deficit top 30-40 on her serve sent a forehand long to hand over the set virtually to Hantchova. The lanky Slovak made no mistake in holding serve to take the first set 6-4.

The second set saw a new and improved Kirillenko. She had fought off the little demons of self-doubts that may have clung onto her services. Daniela tried out everything forehand passing shots, converting back-hands into forehand and a disguised drop-volley. But the Russian, ranked 35 in the WTA list, did one better today.

After the match Daniela said, ''She had an answer for everything I tried today.'' It summed up everything.

A treat to watch was a drop-volley from Hantuchova, which she countered with one of her own that left the Slovak stranded in the middle of nowhere. It also earned her first break in the second set in the second game. There after it was no looking back.

Kirillenko broke her again in the fourth game and eighth to take the set. Daniela did come back briefly with a break of her own in the seventh, but it was too late in the second set that went the Russian way 6-2.

The third set was like a Russian Roullet and Kirillenko was pressing the trigger hard and fast. She got the winners coming out like cards out of a flipper machine. The senior pro on the tour looked like a helpless spectator as Kirillenko peppered her with passing shots and an array of back hands that she had not flashed before.

She was looking comfortable at three love up with one break to go.

Kirillenko scored a nother break in the sixth game as Daniela shot a forehand wide going 5-1 up.

She then served out the match to enter the final.

With just the Beijing Open title on tour, she will be looking for another one. "I would like to win the final tomorrow. I had so much of support here." ''I was a bit nervous in the first set and after I lost it I said to myself, Maria what is wrong and I worked on my strengths,'' she said.


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