The two best players on clay this season are Dinara Safina and Svetlana Kuznetsova and they will meet in the 2009 Roland Garros final tomorrow. The all-Russian final should be a classic match, kinda like an all-Williams final.
No. 1 seed Safina, in pursuit of a maiden grand slam title, has had a bit of a shaky week but that did not stop her beating Slovakian teenager Dominika Cibulkova 6-3 6-3 in the semis.
On the other hand, No. 7 Kuznetsova was able to beat Serena Williams in one of the best matches of the year in the quarterfinals: 7-6(3) 5-7 7-5 and despite showing some mental weakness in her semifinal against Samantha Stosurm Kuznetsova was again able to gut out a win 6-4 6-7(5) 6-3 in a match that went on for almost two and a half hours. Can she make it three in a row?
Both Russians are closely matched physically, with huge serves, excellent forehands and backhands as well as exquisite movement on clay. Kuznetsova may be the more talented, but tennis is at least 50% mental, and by getting to #1 in the world, Safina has demonstrated the mental toughness required.
The Russian duo had been the favorites to reach the final before the start of the claycourt major and, after playing in Paris for 12 days, they set up the first all-Russian final at Roland Garros since 2004.
Since becoming world number one in April, Safina has swept to a 20-1 record on clay. Her one loss was to Kuznetsova. Head to head Safina leads their rivalry 8 to 5, although they are tied 4-4 in matches on clay and 1-1 at matches on clay at Roland Garros.
Will Safina keep her edge and win her first major title on Saturday in Paris? If she does triumph, it will also give her family a unique place in the record books. With her brother Marat owning two major trophies, a win on Saturday for Safina will mark the first time a brother and sister have captured grand slam singles titles.
Watch to find out!
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Women’s Final – NBC – 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM (EST) (LIVE)
Update: Kuznetsova’s wait for a second Grand Slam title is over. The Russian won the 2009 French Open title, emerging victorious 6-4 6-2 in a 75-minute contest.