Hantuchova into Indian Wells final
The Slovakian takes on Russian second seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in the decider.
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2007 12:08 GMT

Daniela Hantuchova reaches her second Indian Wells final after winning the title in 2002 [EPA]

Fourteenth seed Daniela Hantuchova from Slovakia will play second-seeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova in the final of the Pacific Life Open after both players battled through tough three-set semi-finals in Indian Wells, California on Friday.
Hantuchova, who won her only career title at Indian Wells in 2002, defeated China's Na Li 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 in the semis in her third three-set match of the tournament and her ninth this year, while Kuznetsova came from one set down to overcome gritty Austrian Sybille Bammer 6-7, 6-4, 6-1.

Hantuchova, 23, reached her second Pacific Life Open final after outlasting Li in tough conditions, and hopes to repeat her winning performance from 2002 when she shocked Martina Hingis in the final.

"There is definitely something very special about this place for me," Hantuchova said.

"It is a fantastic feeling to be back on the court and in the finals once again.

"I knew in the third set it was going to be a battle, but I felt like physically I was feeling much better on the court," added the Slovakian.

"Mentally it helped me that I felt like I could have stayed there for as long as it took to get through.

"Especially the first few games in the third set were very important, and I just tried to save my energy for the points, not to waste it in between, and tried to play very smart."

Later, Kuznetsova survived a resolute challenge from Bammer, who took the first set with her big left-handed forehand and well placed serves, after two hours and 39 minutes in scorching temperatures.

Tough match

Kuznetsova defeated Hantuchova earlier this
month in the Qatar Open semis [GALLO/GETTY]
Kuznetsova, US Open champion in 2004, was pleased to get through to the final, but disappointed with herself that it took three sets in trying conditions against the 33rd seeded Bammer.

"I was so upset because I started to understand how the game was and how I had to play," Kuznetsova said.

"But it was all the time really small outs or unforced errors. It was tough. It was very disappointing to do it in three sets, but the end result is what I wanted."

The 26 year-old Bammer, who has a five year old daughter who travels with her, and is the only mother in the top 100 ranked players on the tour, forced Kuznetsova to lose only the second set of her tournament.

The Russian is now guaranteed to rise to a career-high number three in the world regardless of what happens in the final, with the 21 year-old already having beaten Hantuchova earlier this month, 6-4, 6-2 in the semi-finals of the Qatar Total Open.

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