Justin Henin-Hardenne won her second straight Dubai Open title Saturday, beating Russian teenager Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6 (3), 6-3 and improving her record this year to 14-0.
The top-ranked Belgian, the Australian Open winner, did not drop a set in winning her third title this season and 17th of her career.
“There were a couple of times when I lost my consistency, and that is a negative point,” she said. “But I could come back when I had to, and that’s very important at this level.”
The 18-year-old Kuznetsova is set to crack the top 20 for the first time on the strength of her performance in Dubai, where she beat Venus Williams in the quarterfinals
“This has been one of the best weeks, having four wins in a row against top players,” Kuznetsova said.
Henin-Hardenne charged to a 5-1 lead in the first-set tiebreaker before the Russian won two points. Henin-Hardenne earned three set points when Kuznetsova netted a backhand return and clinched the set when the Russian’s forehand hit the top of the net and bounced out.
Henin-Hardenne rushed to a 3-0 lead in the next set, then dropped three straight games. The Belgian wrapped up the match by taking the next three games.
Henin-Hardenne heads to Doha for the Qatar Open, which begins Monday.
SODERLING TO FACE HRBATY IN MARSEILLE FINAL
Robin Soderling moved a step closer to his first ATP career title, downing seventh-seeded Arnaud Clement 6-3, 6-3 Saturday in the Open 13 semifinals in Marseille, France.
Soderling, a 19-year-old Swede, will play for the championship Sunday against Slovakia’s Dominik Hrbaty. Hrbaty beat Sweden’s Jonas Bjorkman, last year’s runner-up, 7-6 (9), 6-3.
Hrbaty will be seeking his third title this year following hard-court victories at Adelaide, Australia, and Auckland, New Zealand.
Soderling is ranked 57th and will be appearing in his second final. He lost to Mardy Fish of the United States in October in Stockholm, Sweden.
Brasil Open final suspended by rain
Brazil’s Gustavo Kuerten led Agustin Calleri of Argentina 3-6, 6-2, 1-0 in the final of the Brasil Open on Saturday before the match was suspended due to rain.
After a delay of 90 minutes, officials decided to complete the final on Sunday.
The fourth-seeded Calleri had complained during the second set about the effect the rain was having on the clay courts.
Kuerten, seeded third, won the tournament in 2002.
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