Serena Meets Vera Zvonareva For Charleston Title

CHARLESTON, SC, USA - No.5 seed Serena Williams moved into the final of the Family Circle Cup on Saturday with a straight set defeat of French teenager Alize Cornet. Meeting her for the title at the $1.34-million, Tier I event will be Vera Zvonareva, who came out on top in her all-Russian battle with Elena Dementieva.

America's Williams came into her semifinal match-up in buoyant mood, having won her past 13 matches on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour - including title runs in Bangalore and Miami - but it was Cornet who made the brighter start as she raced into a 4-1 lead. The unseeded 18-year-old, not short on confidence herself after a semifinal run in Amelia Island last week, was unable to capitalize on this advantage though and the hard-hitting American hit back in style to take the set.

There was nothing to separate the two players in the second set until the eight game, when Williams claimed the vital break before serving out moments later for a hard-fought 75 63 win. The former world No.1 was runner-up at the Faily Circle Tennis Center five years ago and if she wants to go one better this time around she will have to defeat a resurgent Zvonareva.

"I definitely think I need to get out to a much faster start [in the final]," Williams said. "I'm playing a tough player. Every day, I've been playing a tough player but it's the finals and everyone wants to win so I'm definitely going to have to start a little faster."

After missing much of 2007 through injury, Zvonareva has been one of the comeback stories of the new season, winning 20 matches prior to this week and rising steadily up the rankings. Her triumph over No.4 seed Dementieva sees the 23-year-old Muscovite into a third final since the turn of the year where she will be bidding to defeat Williams for just the second time in six attempts.

No.9 seed Zvonareva made the brighter start and broke serve two times to take the opening set. However, when she dropped the second on a one-sided tie-break and fell an early break behind in the decider it appeared Dementieva would be heading for Sunday's showpiece. Yet Zvonareva turned the match on its head at this point, reeling off six of the next seven games to close out a 63 67(2) 63 win.

"I wasn't thinking about the score when I was on the court," Zvonareva said. "I was just trying to find a way to win that match, and I kept fighting, and I think it worked for me today. I had a few long matches this week, but I'm feeling pretty good. Of course, you're a little bit tired after every match, but hopefully I can recover well and produce some good tennis [in the final] because against Serena it is very important as you have to be at your best to beat her.",19 april, 2008