CHARLESTON, S.C., Apr 15 (Reuters) Third-seeded Swiss Patty Schnyder outlasted top seed Justine Henin-Hardenne 2-6 6-3 6-2 to reach the Family Circle Cup final today.
Schnyder now faces second-seeded Russian Nadia Petrova in tomorrow's showdown after the 23-year-old routed her doubles partner, number six seeded German Anna-Lena Groenefeld, 6-1 6-3.
Schynder was delighted to get past last year's winner Henin-Hardenne in a tough top-spin battle on a hot, windy day.
''I've never beaten her and I really think she's the greatest clay court player there is at the moment,'' said Schnyder, the world number nine.
''She's one of the greatest champions we have and it's just amazing how I could come back and win it at the end.'' Henin-Hardenne, who won the event in 2003 and 2005, was 14-0 at Charleston but appeared to struggle as Schnyder got more comfortable in the 91-degree heat and sun.
NO EXCUSES ''I have no excuses,'' said the Belgian world number three, who lost a first-round match at Miami earlier this month and skipped the Amelia Island tour stop to recover from injury.
''She just played better than me. ... I had opportunities but I didn't take them.'' Schnyder had reached one final and two semi-finals in the previous four Family Circle Cups but came into the match 0-6 overall against Henin-Hardenne.
Her opponent Petrova is just one match away from her second consecutive tour title after winning last week at Amelia Island.
The world number seven is projected to make her top five debut next week if she beats Schnyder on Sunday.
The Russian agreed that Groenefeld did not play well but believes she had something to do with the poor performance.
''I just really didn't let her play,'' Petrova said. ''I really took everything in my hands, and as soon as I felt that she was missing from one side and making the double faults I really started to be a little bit pushy.'' Petrova and Groenefeld, partners for the first time here, reached the doubles semi-final but withdrew from today's match with top-seeded Lisa Raymond of the U S and Australian Samantha Stosur because of Groenefeld's left hamstring injury.
Fifth-seeded Shinobu Asagoe of Japan and Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia face second seeds Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain and American Meghann Shaughnessy in the other semi-final.
REUTERS PDS BST0351