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Kanepi, Samsonova advance to WTA Washington final

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Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi, who is trying to end a nine-year WTA title drought at the age of 37, advanced to the Washington Open final on Saturday, defeating Australia’s Daria Saville 6-3, 6-1.

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World No. 37 Kanepi will play for the crown on Sunday against No. 60 Ludmila Samsonova, who thrashed China’s Wang Xia 6-1, 6-1 in the other semi-final at the US-tuned ATP and WTA hard-surface tournament open.

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Kanepi is in contention for his fifth career WTA title, but his first since the 2013 Brussels Open. She won her only WTA hard court title in Brisbane in 2012.

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In his first WTA final since setting up the 2021 Australian Open in Melbourne, it took Kanepi just 73 minutes to defeat Saville, who was in her first WTA semi-final since 2018 in Acapulco.

“I played my best match,” Kanepi said. “Everything was very smooth for me. I hit many lines.”

Kanepi reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final since 2017 at this year’s Australian Open and believes it boosted her confidence, which was critical to her success this year.

“It was amazing,” she said. “I never thought I would be doing quarters in Australia. I thought it was not only my place. But I played very well and then continued to play well. I didn’t really put any pressure on myself to achieve anything special.”

Samsonova, 23, won her only encounter with Kanepi in the first round of last year’s Wimbledon, and it took her just 67 minutes to eliminate 21-year-old lucky loser Wang, the 95th left-hander.

Samsonova won her only previous WTA final at last year’s German Open and scored her second win of the year against a top 10 opponent when she defeated reigning US Open champion Emma Radukanu in the quarterfinals.

The men’s semi-finals were scheduled for Saturday night, with Australia’s Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios taking on 115th-place Swede Mikael Ymer, and eighth-place Andrey Rublev playing 96th-place Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka. .

Kyrgios, ranked 63rd, won the last of his six ATP titles in Washington in 2019, while Ymer lost his only ATP final last August in Winston-Salem.

Nishioka, who competed in his first ATP semi-final since 2020 at Delray Beach, won his only ATP title in 2018 at Shenzhen.

Rublev is in contention for his 12th career crown and fourth title of the season behind Marseille, Dubai and Belgrade, hoping to equal Spain’s Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz for most ATP trophies this year.

Nishioka and Rublev shared two previous encounters with Nishioka winning in Sydney in 2019 and Rublev winning last year’s ATP Cup.



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