Henin-Hardenne, Kuznetsova reach women's title match

Friday, June 9, 2006

PARIS -- Once again, Justine Henin-Hardenne rose to the occasion on her favorite stage.

The two-time French Open champion earned another berth in the final, taking advantage of Belgian compatriot Kim Clijsters' erratic play to win 6-3, 6-2 Thursday.

Henin-Hardenne won the tournament in 2003 and 2005. Her opponent Saturday will be 2004 U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, who ended 17-year-old Nicole Vaidisova's breakthrough week by rallying to win 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-2.

Vaidisova served for the match in the second set and was two points from her first Grand Slam final at 5-5 in the tiebreaker, but a wave of errors by the teen turned the tide.

"I had my chances, of course. It happens," said Vaidisova, chomping gum in her postmatch news conference. "Of course I'm disappointed. I love to win and I hate to lose. But I can be proud of how I did."

Kuznetsova, seeded eighth, drew on her big-match experience and played better as the match progressed. She committed only one unforced error in the final set, winning the first four games and serving well to close out the victory.

In the men's semifinals today, No. 3-seeded David Nalbandian and No. 4 Ivan Ljubicic will try to play spoilers, with top-ranked Roger Federer and defending champion Rafael Nadal one round from a much-anticipated showdown in the final.

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