June 5, 2009

Safina, Kuznetsova set for French final

Dinara Safina has one loss since she took over the No. 1 ranking and that was to her French Open championship opponent, Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Safina and Kuznetsova won semifinal matches Thursday and earned a shot at the French Open title. Safina owns an 8-5 advantage over Kuznetsova in their careers but their last two meetings, both tournament finals, were split.

Kuznetsova won the final in Germany but Safina avenged that in the title match at Rome. Both of those matches were on clay courts, as is the French Open.

Both players have played well in recent weeks. Safina is 20-1, including 16 consecutive wins, since becoming No. 1 while Kuznetsova won 15 of her last 17 matches.

Safina moved through the French Open bracket losing only one set in six matches. Kuznetsova is coming off three consecutive three-set matches, a string that includes an upset of second-seeded Serena Williams.

It is the second consecutive French Open final for Safina, who lost last year's title to Ana Ivanovic. Safina, even though ranked No. 1, is yet to win a Grand Slam event.

Kuznetsova does have the 2004 U.S. Open title to her credit. Saturday will mark her fourth major tournament final, including a 2006 French Open title-match loss to Justine Henin.