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Kuznetsova targets the top after reaching Dubai final

It was an important victory in a patchy match for a player who lasted a physically testing two-hour 42-minute encounter better than her opponent.
AFP | By HT Correspondent, Dubai
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2008 09:50 PM IST

Never keen on being second best, Svetlana Kuznetsova improved her chances of reaching the pinnacle at some time later in the year by reaching her second final of 2008 in Dubai.

The world number three from St Petersburg, whose mother won six world cycling titles and father coached Olympic champions, overcame Jelena Jankovic, the world number four from Serbia, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 in the semi-finals of the Dubai Open on Friday.

It was an important victory in a patchy match for a player who lasted a physically testing two-hour 42-minute encounter better than her opponent.

The wind contributed to a higher error ratio than usual from both players, but Kuznetsova never forsook an enterprising attitude and was always dangerous with heavily struck blows from both wings.

She also kept her mind pinned down to the task more tightly as the contest wore on. "In the first set I was playing the right shots but at 5-3 I lost concentration and let her get back," Kuznetsova said.

"The same happened in the second set when I got to 3-0. I let her get back. I tried to change that and as the match went on and on I went better and better. In the third set I served better too."

She still had to come back from 2-3, a break of serve, down in the final set against a Jankovic who served moderately, but ran bravely and was usually dangerous when given time and room on the backhand side.

Asked if she could see Jankovic was weakening, Kuznetsova said humourously: "She looks like weak, weak, weak, and then she runs, runs, runs. I better not look at her. I had better focus on myself."

Jankovic was still pleased with her overall improvement, having finished last year exhausted, and begun this year with limited preparation.

"I started this year healthy but not well prepared because of a back problem. But then I started getting all the injuries probably, because I wasn't wel prepared.

"My whole body was falling apart, but now that's not the case - I am just tired."

She added: "Match by match I felt better and better and even though I lost this match I felt that I was going the right way.

"As long as I can play without pain that's all I ask as a tennis player."

Jankovic also suggested she is still on the lookout for a coach, after spending most of the tour without one. She is currently trying out with Scott Humphries, from the United States.

"I don't want to be alone any more," Jankovic said. "But I have a lot of room for improvement. I believe that if I have a good coach with a lot of knowledge who can put me on the right path I can really reach my full potential and do really great things in tennis.

"I would love to find the person to do this but it's difficult to find the right person."

Kuznetsova will play the 13th all-Russian WTA Tour singles final when she takes on Elena Dementieva, the former US and French Open runner-up, in the final.

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