Serena Williams’ withdrawal days before the start of the tournament created a wide-open field — it was anyone’s title to win. Yet, few foresaw an all-Russian final in the form of World #8 Svetlana Kuznetsova and World #15 Elena Vesnina. These two fierce competitors are flying high, having made it this far and knocking out tough competition to arrive at tomorrow’s final.
The 31-year-old Kuznetsova had to get through World #3 Karolina Pliskova. Relying on her powerful serve and employing exceptional defense, Kuznetsova was able to steel her nerves in two tension-laden tiebreaks. In the first set tiebreak, Kuznetsova jumped out to a commanding 6-2 lead. Pliskova stormed back bringing it to 6-5. While she prevailed, Kuznetsova shared her concern: “Except that serve on 6-5 or whatever it was — wait. 6-4 in the tiebreaker, that double fault and couple forehands I shouldn’t be missing. But I felt great. I felt like I was just giving all I had in me there, and that’s what I work for, you know, that moments which really matters, you know.” The second set tiebreaker proved equally as nerve-wracking, but Kuznetsova was able to pull through and eliminate Pliskova in straight sets. If it had to go to a third set, the Russian was prepared. Said Kuznetsova, “If she managed to win one of the sets and then we go for third, I would still be fighting and still playing every ball.” She’ll need that fighting spirit for tomorrow’s match-up with Elena Vesnina.
The 30-year-old Vesnina has reached the biggest final of her career, though it certainly hasn’t been easy. Standing in her patch was World #2 Angelique Kerber, who most thought would reach this final. That was not to be, as Vesnina eliminated that fourth round challenge in straight sets. Harder competition came in the form of 13th-ranked Venus Williams. Up until the quarterfinals, Venus had been playing “down but never out” tennis, keeping us on the edge of our seats as she found a way through. Vesnina was pushed to three sets, but Williams was knocked out in Vesnina’s 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 victory. When asked about playing fellow Russian Kuznetsova, “She obviously liked playing here with the balls flying and jumping quite high. She’s using her forehand — like, powerful forehand topspin here a lot. Brings a lot of points. What I saw in couple of matches against — I mean, Svetlana was playing — she was serving really well in key moments. It’s going to be very difficult match, you know, when you’re playing against kind of the — from the same country.”
The Woman’s final starts Sunday at 11:00 am (Pacific), and regardless of who wins, they’ll be celebrating in Russia.