STUTTGART, Germany, Oct 6 (Reuters) Justine Henin extended her perfect record against Jelena Jankovic today, posting a 7-6 7-5 victory over the third-seeded Serbian to seal a place in the Stuttgart Grand Prix final.
Henin was joined in the final by the unseeded Tatiana Golovin of France, after she upset the Russian second seed Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2 6-4 in just 70 minutes.
World number one Henin, appearing in her first tournament since winning the US Open, started brilliantly against Jankovic but had to play her way through a ragged patch before coming through.
It was an eighth victory in as many matches for Henin against Jankovic, and a 15th consecutive win in all since her semi-final defeat by Marion Bartoli at Wimbledon.
''We've had a lot of great fights and this was another one,'' Henin said at a news conference.
Henin looked set for an easy ride on her way to the final as she marched into a 5-2 lead in the first set.
Jankovic held her serve to love in the next and then broke back only to get in trouble on her own service game again.
At 30-40 and set point, Henin put the simplest of overheads into the net to let her opponent off the hook.
Jankovic subsequently held and forced a tiebreak before Henin recovered her poise to take it 7-2.
Henin fell a break down early in the second set but she hit back in game seven with a perfect backhand lob and finished by far the stronger of the two to complete what was in the end a fairly comfortable win.
''The first set was really close but I tired at the end of the match and she was much fresher,'' said Jankovic.
Golovin will be making a second successive appearance in the Stuttgart final, after losing last year to Nadia Petrova.
If she plays as she did against Kuznetsova she will take some stopping.
The 19-year-old broke early in each set and found the lines with her groundstrokes throughout against her tiring opponent.
''I came out really strong today,'' Golovin said. ''But I was so nervous this morning I couldn't eat my breakfast.'' REUTERS PDS RK2109