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Old Feb 11th, 2005, 04:42 PM   #35
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India's Mirza reaches first WTA finalBy NARENDER REVELLI, Associated Press Writer
February 11, 2005

HYDERABAD, India (AP) -- Sania Mirza of India scored a big victory before a home crowd Friday, beating eighth-seeded Maria Kirilenko of Russia 6-4, 7-6 (4) at the Hyderabad Open to reach her first WTA Tour final.

Mirza, who is not seeded, will play Ukraine's Alyona Bondarenko for the title Saturday. Bondarenko advanced to her first final in a walkover in the other semifinal. Second-seeded Anna Lena Groenefeld of Germany hurt her right knee while teaming with Martina Navratilova in doubles Thursday.

Mirza, a former Wimbledon junior doubles title winner who turned 18 last month, is ranked 134th. At last month's Australian Open, she became the first Indian woman to reach the third round of a Grand Slam event.

She won her semifinal against Kirilenko with a backhand down the line on a return of serve. Kirilenko, ranked 82nd, lost to Nicole Pratt in last year's title match.

``I have no words to describe the feeling of reaching the final,'' Mirza said. ``This was the best match I've ever played, it is a special feeling to be in a WTA event final.''

Kirilenko lost the first set after a string of unforced errors and a double-fault. Mirza raced ahead 3-0 in the second set. Serving for the match at 5-3, Mirza committed four double-faults during the ninth and 11th games, helping Kirilenko bounce back.

The 18-year-old Russian then made two unforced errors and double-faulted, forcing a tiebreaker. Kirilenko led 4-2 in the tiebreaker, but Mirza reeled off five points in a row.
Updated on Friday,
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