Kanepi and Samsonova roll into the Washington final

Two of the WTA’s power hitters, Kaia Kanepi and Liudmila Samsonova, set up an eye-catching Citi Open final with sweeping semi-final victories on Saturday.

In the first semifinal of the day, No.6 Kanepi stormed into her first final of the year with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Daria Saville. World No. 37 Kanepi, the only seeded player to reach the last four in Washington this week, took 1 hour and 13 minutes to storm past Saville.

Kanepi is in a final for the first time since Melbourne’s Gippsland Trophy last February. She is now one win away from her fifth career title and it would be her first trophy since winning in Brussels in 2013.

Former top 15 player Kanepi, who made her Citi Open tournament debut this week, put on a stunning display of flawless power tennis on Saturday to finish the match with 18 winners and just five unforced errors. Kanepi gained 80 percent of her first service points to get past Saville.

Despite the loss, former top 20 player Saville has made an excellent comeback after undergoing Achilles tendon surgery in February 2021. This year, it has risen from a low of 627 in February to its current position of 88 in just six months.

On Saturday, Saville was clinging to her lower back during the 4-2 game and took a medical time-out mid-game, but the Aussie returned to the court and continued playing.

However, Kanepi used her pounding groundstrokes to hit the lines with precision throughout the rest of the game, and she won eight of the last nine games to secure her place in the finals.

“I think I played my best match today,” Kanepi said in her post-match press conference. “Everything went very smoothly for me. I think I hit a lot of lines. It’s hard to make it every day, so I think today was a good day for me.”

Kanepi has won 19 matches this season, which is already her highest match-win total since 2013. The 37-year-old veteran made the elite eight at the Australian Open this year and has now reached quarterfinals in all four Grand Slam events of her career.

The second semifinal was even quicker as world No. 60 Samsonova swept past 95th lucky loser Wang Xiyu 6-1, 6-1 in 67 minutes. Samsonova is in her second career final after winning the title on the grass courts of Berlin last year as a qualifier.

Like Kanepi, Samsonova showed her hard-hitting game at its best on Saturday, with 17 winners from just five unforced errors. Wang, who was playing in her second WTA semifinal of her career, tied with Samsonova with four aces but she was nullified by 16 unforced errors.

Highlights: Samsonova defeated. Wang

Samsonova never faced a break point until the very last game after seeing two match points cleared by Wang. However, Samsonova salvaged that break point with a forehand winner, and she used the same shot to force an error from Wang on her third match point.

Samsonova has a 1-0 head-to-head lead over Kanepi after triumphing in their first-round match at Wimbledon last year.

There’s more to come…

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