Tennis: Mladenovic sets up final with Kvitova

Mladenovic in action during her semi-final match against Daria Kasatkina of Russia. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia (AFP) - Reigning champion Kristina Mladenovic of France battled back from a set down to beat Russia's Daria Kasatkina on Saturday (Feb 3) to set up St Petersburg Ladies Trophy final with Czech Petra Kvitova.

Fourth seed Mladenovic, ranked 10th in the world, made another step to retaining her only WTA title with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win in two hours 17 minutes over Russia's 20-year-old to record her second win in as many head-to-head meetings.

"I want to give a big credit to Daria she played an amazing match," Mladenovic said after the match. "It was a physically tough battle with plenty of variations and a tough mental battle for both of us.

"To be in the final is a big reward for me for the work I've put in. It's a great result already."

The opponents both looked nervous producing a catalogue of unforced errors but eighth seed Kasatkina was a little more accurate as she took the opening set in 49 minutes.

In the second, Mladenovic was a bit more precise as the players continued trading errors and levelled after one hour 29 minutes on court.

In the deciding set, Mladenovic took control breaking Kasatkina on three occasions before ending with a drop shot on the fourth match point.

In the earlier semifinal two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova, 27, squeezed into the final in a tough three-setter against Germany's Julia Goerges, the fifth seed, 7-5, 4-6, 6-2.

Goerges, 12th in the WTA rankings, served for the first set but Kvitova, who appeared in the main draw courtesy of a wild card, moved up a gear and took three consecutive games for a 1-0 lead.

Goerges broke early in the second and this time kept her lead to level but in the deciding set left-handed Kvitova took complete command producing two more breaks and sealed victory with a precise forehand.

"I haven't played in the deciding matches since June and it's a really great feeling to be in the final again," Kvitova said.

"Probably now I'm on a good way and will try to keep myself on it."

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