DUBAI // Virginie Razzano, who has spent more time than anybody on court during the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, was grateful for a much easier workout than she could ever have hoped for yesterday as she thrashed the other surprise semi-finalist Kaia Kanepi 6-1, 6-2.
The Frenchwoman took less time (63 minutes) to stroll through to her fifth career final than she had needed to secure the first set of her marathon quarter-final against the world No 5 Vera Zvonareva on Thursday. The pathetic performance of Kanepi, a pale shadow of the player who had humbled former world No 1 Jelena Jankovic in the third round, enabled Razzano to rest her weary bones in a spa bath rather than run the rule over the Williams sisters last night to discover which of Venus or Serena she is to meet in tonight's final.
That was probably a sensible decision because Razzano, ranked a modest 58 in the world, will be a massive outsider tonight. Win or lose, though, she can look back on an excellent week's work which included a tremendous win over the Australian Open runner-up Dinara Safina. Razzano, 25, who has a superstition never to look at the draw sheet before her matches, insists she will not think about the final until she arrives at the Dubai Tennis Centre this afternoon.
"I am going to enjoy my visit to the spa with my boyfriend," she said. "Then we will go to a nice restaurant for a meal and then I will have a relaxing drink in the same way as I have done on the last few nights. "After all that I hope to get a good night's sleep and only then will I start thinking about the final. "When I do, my objective will be to play my natural game and you never know what might happen."
Most spectators in a half-full stadium were anticipating a close encounter, but were disappointed to see Kanepi fall well below expectations by hitting a succession of wayward shots. Razzano took full advantage to race through the opening set and take a 2-0 lead in the second. Only then did the Frenchwoman falter, allowing Kanepi back into the match with a weak service game. The setback only made Razzano more determined and the winner of two tour titles in 2007 brought an unlikely third tantalisingly within reach by dominating the next four games.
"For most of the match I put her under a lot of pressure and didn't allow her any easy points," reflected a highly satisfied Razzano. "I know that Kaia can be a very dangerous opponent as she proved against Jankovic." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org