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Henin, Kuznetsova set up final contest
September 08, 2007 09:07 IST
Top seed Justine Henin [Images] of Belgium battled past two-times champion Venus Williams 7-6, 6-4 in a see-saw slugfest on Friday to line up a US Open final against Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Henin, the 2003 champion, won a fiercely fought first set 7-2 in the tiebreaker and broke 12th seed Williams in the final game for victory, following up her quarter-finals victory over two-times winner Serena Williams [Images].
Fourth seed Kuznetsova, who won the Open in 2004, overcame some early nerves to beat compatriot Anna Chakvetadze [Images] 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 in her semi-final on a hot, breezy day at Flushing Meadows.
Henin and Venus met for the first time since the American prevailed in the semi-finals of the 2003 Australian Open.
The two-hour match, marked by rousing rallies and spiced with volley exchanges at the net, was Henin's second win against seven losses to Williams.
"I started the match so well, I was playing unbelievable," Henin told reporters. "But as soon as you give just a little, she comes right back. I think it was a very good match."
"I'm very disappointed," said Williams, who said she felt dizzy and sick to her stomach. "But credit to her for playing well."
Henin broke Williams to open the match and dropped just two points on serve until serving for the set in the 10th game.
Williams raised her level, saving three set points before breaking back to set up the tiebreaker.
After Henin seized the early lead in the second set with a break to lead 2-0, Williams answered by breaking in the fifth game on a backhand winner.
Williams looked set to surge ahead after taking a 0-40 lead on Henin's serve in the seventh game. The Belgian, however, ran off five straight points to hold and broke Williams for 5-3.
With Henin serving for the match, the American rose to break back, but Henin had the last word.
She set up match point with a service return that brushed the back line and reached the final on a forehand error.
Williams, 27, was visited by the trainer after the seventh game of the second set but declined to use a timeout. "I was fighting some circumstances I couldn't conquer," she said.
Henin became the second player to beat the Williams sisters in the same slam. Martina Hingis [Images] accomplished it at the 2001 Australian Open before losing the final to Jennifer Capriati [Images].
"It is not easy to play Venus and Serena," she said. "I think I did a great job but my tournament is not over yet."
In contrast to the high-quality of the Henin-Williams match, Kuznetsova prevailed in an error-filled contest.
Kuznetsova lost her serve four times and had 21 errors in the opening set but won 12 of the last 13 games.
"I was so nervous in the first set," said the Russian. "Every ball I hit, I hit it with the frame, the handle, somewhere out. Forehand. Didn't serve well."
Sixth seed Chakvetadze, who committed 46 unforced errors, was at a loss to explain.
"I just played horrible," said Chakvetadze, 20.
The men's semi-finals will be played on Saturday before the women's final with triple champion Roger Federer [Images] gunning to reach his 10th straight Grand Slam final when he takes on gritty Russian Nikolay Davydenko, the fourth seed.
The other semi-final has third-seeded Serb Novak Djokovic against Spaniard David Ferrer, the 15th seed, who beat French Open champion Rafael Nadal [Images] on the way to his first appearance in the last four of a Grand Slam.
In the men's doubles, Swede Simon Aspelin and Austrian Julian Knowle won their first Grand Slam title by defeating Czechs Lukas Dlouhy and Pavel Vizner 7-5, 6-4.