Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Schiavone Earns Shot at Her First WTA Title; No. 3 Seed from Italy Leading When Kuznetsova Retires with Injury

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Schiavone Earns Shot at Her First WTA Title; No. 3 Seed from Italy Leading When Kuznetsova Retires with Injury

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID JOHNSON

For the second year in a row, a relentless Italian playing all the angles advanced to the Bausch & Lomb Championships final.

No. 3 seed Francesca Schiavone reached her seventh career final and second this season after Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia retired with a right thigh injury while trailing 7-6 (7-2), 3-2. The 13th-ranked Schiavone will try to win her first WTA Tour title against top seed Nadia Petrova at 2 p.m. today in the championship at Amelia Island.

"For me, it's something very personal to improve myself, to grow up -- to believe in myself, to be Francesca," Schiavone said of trying to win her first title. "It's not just the trophy for me. It's all that I did to arrive there. This is the most beautiful present that I can receive."

Schiavone retired from her doubles semifinal with abdominal pain, but told tour officials it wouldn't affect her in the singles championship today. Last year, Italy's Silvia Farina Elia reached the final before losing to American Lindsay Davenport.

Kuznetsova, the 2004 U.S. Open champion, was disappointed she was forced to retire after an eight-match winning streak that included taking the Nasdaq-100 Open title at Key Biscayne last week.

"It's pretty disappointing, because imagine if I could move well, what would have happened," said Kuznetsova, who is ranked 10th in the world. "I had so easy balls. I just couldn't get my feet under it. [That] is a big part of my game."

But Kuznetsova didn't call it a loss.

"I'm happy because nobody beat me. Again, I just couldn't move," Kuznetsova said. "I've been playing well, winning matches in two sets. Changing from hard to clay [courts], this is what makes a huge difference."

Schiavone led 3-0 in the first set before Kuznetsova kicked her serve up a notch, winning five games in a row. The Russian broke Schiavone twice and hit four aces in two service games to go up 5-3. …

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