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Kanepi to face Hantuchova in final

6 January 2012, by Brisbane International Tennis

Update 12:45 am. Unseeded Estonian Kaia Kanepi has powered her way into her second consecutive women’s final, continuing her list of upsets by demolishing third seed Francesca Schiavone on Friday night to set up a surprise final against Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova.

Kanepi claimed seventh seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, second seed Andrea Petkovic and now Schiavone without dropping a set, unleashing her powerful serve and heavy groundstrokes to dispose of the 2010 French Open champion 6-3 6-0 in just 55 minutes.

After reaching the final of Moscow in October, Kanepi said it feels amazing to be in another final of a premier event, especially coming through a stacked field of former world number ones and Grand Slam champions.

“When I came into this tournament I was looking to here are so many good players and I have to play well and I have done it,” Kanepi said.

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“It feels very good because I have been now in two premier tournament finals in a row, first with Moscow and now here. It’s an amazing feeling to play well and go that far in a tournament.”

Kanepi has become a known giant-killer, but she said her recent consistency has been the key to stringing good matches together and hopefully becoming a seeded player herself.

“Well in previous years I have been a surprise player that can beat high-ranked [players] and then lose to not too good ranking, but I think now I’m playing more stable and don’t make too many errors so I can beat those high-ranked players and hopefully get that ranking myself one day too,” she said.

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Schiavone and Kanepi battled until 7-6 in the third set when they played in 2011—Kanepi also getting the better of Schiavone on that occasion—but the Estonian made short work of tonight’s match, losing just four points on her serve and hitting an impressive six aces to race to the win.

In her opening service game, Kanepi—currently ranked 34 on the WTA tour—hit 100 per cent first serves and held to love for 1-1, putting the early pressure on the Schiavone serve.

“I had some problems with the serve yesterday so we tried to focus on something to make the serve better today and it was working and I feel good,” Kanepi said.

Displaying her repertoire, Kanepi placed a perfectly weighted lob over the 166 cm Italian to earn two break points before a Schiavone error gifted her the early break and 2-1 lead.

Kanepi didn’t miss a first serve or drop a service point until her third service game, but the fit and agile Schiavone battled through every point to push the set to 6-3 after 31 minutes.

But Schiavone, pushed to the ropes, could do little to hold on against the Estonian powerhouse, calling the trainer at 3-0 down due to illness, which was later revealed to be a “gastrointestinal illness”.

A double fault gave Kanepi all three breaks in the second set, as she closed out the match 6-0 to take her place in the final.

Cheered on by a boisterous player’s box, Kanepi said she doesn’t know what the reaction at home is but she will fly the flag for Estonia in Saturday night’s final, as she hopes to continue to fuel a love of tennis in her home country.

“I have no idea right now, but I know that I’m getting a lot of attention and the people are following tennis more and more because there are not too many athletes who they show in TV, so people are getting more interested in tennis,” she said.

“I enjoy all the attention I’m getting because I’ve had good wins and also enjoying that I’m playing well.”

Kanepi is yet to record a win in the three times she’s played Hantuchova—the world No.24 winning their last match 7-5 6-3 on hard court in 2010—but if she continues the stunning form she’s displayed this week, Kanepi will be in good shape to claim her second WTA singles title.

“I still think I have to play my own game, be aggressive, be patient, serve good and do everything well,” she laughed.  “And we’ll see.”

Kanepi will take on Hantuchova in the women’s final on Saturday night after fifth seed Kim Clijsters retired with a left hip injury in her semi against Hantuchova.

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