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Kuznetsova to face Henin-Hardenne

Defending champion Justine Henin-Hardenne overcame Belgian compatriot Kim Clijsters 6-3, 6-2 to reach the final of the French Open on Thursday.

The 24-year-old fifth seed will meet Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova in the final on Sunday after the eighth seed put out teenager Nicole Vaidisova 5-7, 7-6 (7/5), 6-2.

The eagerly anticipated match-up between the two Belgian former world number ones never really exploded into life as Henin-Hardenne quickly imposed a stranglehold on proceedings.

Coming into the match, Clijsters, the US Open champion, had described her Fed Cup teammate as the best clay courter in the world, an ominous sign of what lay ahead.

Henin-Hardenne backed up Clijsters’ claim in spectacular fashion, breaking her countrywoman to take a 5-3 lead in the first set before two more breaks in the second secured a surprisingly comfortable passage into the title match.

It took the pair’s head-to-head record to 10-10 and Henin-Hardenne gave up only one more game than she had done in her victorious final over Clijsters here in 2003.

Vaidisova had served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, but just as the 17-year-old sensation looked set to cap a fine tournament by making her first ever Grand Slam final, she choked.

Kuznetsova needed no second invitation and turned the screw on a faltering opponent to claim the second set on a tie-break and then romp away with the decider. — AFP



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