ibnlive » Tennis

Jun 05, 2009 at 12:19am IST

Safina storms into French Open final

New Delhi: World No. 1 Dinara Safina moved one step closer to a maiden Grand Slam title on Thursday as she reached the French Open final with a 6-3, 6-3 error-strewn victory over Slovak Dominika Cibulkova.

The Russian, a finalist at Roland Garros last year, needed one hour 41 minutes to down the 20th seed and set up a showdown with either compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova, seeded seventh, or Australian 30th seed Samantha Stosur.

Safina struggled to find her range with her forehand, but she proved more efficient on the key points of the match, prevailing in most of the long rallies.

NEW BALL GAME: Dinara Safina returns the ball to Dominika Cibulkova during the Frnech Open semi-final match.

Safina, who like her brother Marat has a tendency to lose her temper, kept her composure during most of the match barring a couple of minor outbursts.

In a scrappy display she committed 24 unforced errors.

Cibulkova did not seize her chances and failed to convert seven of her eight break opportunities.

Safina said she was getting nervous as she now is only one victory from her first major title.

"It was not an easy match, I struggled at the start," she said. "I was tense because I wanted to win so badly. Instead of dominating from the first point, I waited until (Cibulkova started to) dominate to start playing. I must change that."

More tense

"It's getting closer to the end and I really want to win it. I am more and more tense. I want to give everything I have inside myself," said Safina.

Cibulkova started confidently, breaking in the opening game as Safina sent a backhand long and followed it up on serve.

Safina then won five games in a row, stealing her opponent's serve twice.

She wasted three set points in the eighth game by hitting three forehands long but bagged the first set on her serve on the fifth attempt when Cibulkova failed to control Safina's ripped a forehand after 49 minutes.

The Slovakian, who has yet to win a singles title on the WTA tour, had two break points in the second game of the second set but she threw them away with a forehand long and a backhand into the net.

Safina blew a few opportunities in the third game, and following a quick dispute with the umpire over a point, she swore at herself and repeatedly tapped her head with her finger as she was changing ends.

In the following game, as Cibulkova approached towards the net to check a mark, the Russian drew a large triangle around the mark with her racket.

However, she broke decisively in the fifth game when Cibulkova netted a backhand and then saved three more break points in the following game.

Safina wrapped it up on the Slovak's serve on her second match point as Cibulkova sent another backhand into the net.

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