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Russian eves rule in Paris

Last updated on: June 03, 2004 21:14 IST

Fiery Anastasia Myskina kept her hair-trigger temper under control to create tennis history on Thursday, routing Jennifer Capriati 6-2, 6-2 in the French Open semis to set up a first all-Russian Grand Slam final.

Elena Dementieva had earlier become the first Russian woman in 30 years to reach the final of a Grand Slam singles event by beating Argentine Paola Suarez 6-0, 7-5.

Tsarina by name, tempestuous by nature, Myskina is best known for her shrewish outbursts and on-court rows with coach and former boyfriend Jens Gerlach.

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But on the Roland Garros centre court the Muscovite was a picture of inner peace, channelling all her emotions into grinding the 2001 champion into the dust.

"I fought on every point," grinned the dark-haired 22-year-old. "I'm very surprised to be still in this tournament...but I won."

Although a first Grand Slam final for both players, Saturday's final will be a familiar affair for the two Russians. They started playing tennis together at the same time as schoolgirls and at the same Moscow club.

"I must have played Anastasia more than 30 times," Dementieva said. "We should play this final in Moscow."

Olga Morozova, Dementieva's travelling coach, was the last Russian woman to reach a Grand Slam final, at Wimbledon in 1974. She also reached the final at the French Open the month before, losing both matches to Chris Evert.

Belarussian Natasha Zvereva reached the final of the French Open in 1988, although she was representing the Soviet Union. Zvereva was thrashed 6-0, 6-0 by German Steffi Graf.

There are sports in which the Myskina-Capriati match-up would not have been permitted, the featherweight Russian dwarfed by her heavily-built opponent.

But from the start Myskina's skinny arms welted the ball with such ferocity she easily matched the American's power from the baseline.

COMPLETELY FROZE

Slight and spidery, Myskina busily patrolled the baseline, her bright white shoes scampering across the ochre clay.

Capriati looked leaden by comparison, sluggishly lobbing the ball over the net and after a few minutes' play, Myskina's side of the court was scarred all over with slide-marks as she chased down the American's best efforts.

The Russian eased into a 3-0 lead before Capriati could register on the scoreboard.

Capriati clawed her way back from love-40 to hold for 1-3 and then broke as Myskina faltered but the Russian rattled off three games to clinch the set 6-2 in 29 minutes.

Capriati briefly stabilised but there was no stopping Myskina who polished off the last four games for victory, clubbing a crosscourt backhand past the American for victory in 61 minutes.

"I just had a bad day," Capriati said. "I just didn't make it difficult for her at all.

"There's no reason, no nothing...I just didn't play well."

Dementieva, seeded ninth, raced through the first set of her match in 27 minutes.

Suarez, appearing in her first Grand Slam semi-final, completely froze. She won just 15 points, allowing Dementieva, who beat third seed Amelie Mauresmo in the quarter-finals, to dominate.

Dementieva then lost her way and the Argentine served for the second set at 5-4, only to be broken again and Dementieva clinched victory when the Argentine double-faulted for the eighth time.

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