Kuznetsova, Blake in Pilot Pen finals

Svetlana Kuznetsova and James Blake moved into the finals of the Pilot Pen tournament at New Haven, Connecticut on Friday.

updated: August 26, 2007 06:59 IST
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New Haven:

Svetlana Kuznetsova advanced to her fifth final of the year when Elena Dementieva retired ill in the third set of their all-Russian Pilot Pen semifinal on Friday.

Dementieva called the trainer after being broken for the second time in the third set, and retired with a stomach ailment trailing 4-6, 6-3, 3-0. She had doubled-faulted three times in the final game and had 12 double faults in the match.

"I'm just a little sick," Dementieva said. "It was really humid and hot out there, and we just had a very physical game from the first point, lots of long rallies and a really aggressive game."

In Saturday's final, Kuznetsova will face 18-year-old Hungarian qualifier Agnes Szavay, who won her seventh match in eight days beating Eleni Daniilidou 4-6, 6-1, 7-5.

James Blake reached his third final of the North American hardcourt circuit after struggling past Paul-Henri Mathieu of France 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (2) to set up an all-American men's championship match with friend Mardy Fish, who defeated Croatian Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (3), 6-4. Fish will play in his first ATP final in 16 months.

Szavay was 3-1 down in the third set before rallying in a match that featured five consecutive service breaks in the first set and seven breaks in the third.

Szavay said tightness in her back affected her serve.

"From the qualifying, it's really tough," she said. "I feel my muscles everywhere and I hope the (trainers) can help me get ready for tomorrow."

Szavay won her first WTA Tour title this year in Palermo. She's never met Kuznetsova, who will be seeking her ninth career title and first this year after losing finals in Doha, Indian Wells, Berlin and Rome.

Sixth-seeded Dementieva began her match with a strong serve and broke top-seeded Kuznetsova at 4-4, then held serve to take the set.

She broke Kuznetsova in the first game of the second set, but things deteriorated from there as on-court temperatures rose to 104 degrees (40 degrees C) at Connecticut Tennis Center.

Kuznetsova broke right back and then won the eighth game on Dementieva's serve, taking the final point on a backhand winner.

Karlovic fired 52 aces in winning two matches on Thursday but he was outserved by Fish, who broke Karlovic at 3-3 and held his own serve the rest of the way. The win was Fish's first against Karlovic in five attempts.

Karlovic didn't help himself with 52 unforced errors, leaving Fish to await the winner of the second semifinal betweem American James Blake and France's Paul-Henri Mathieu.

The tendinitis Fish has in both knees has not been a problem, he said.

"It's been a very encouraging week physically," he said.

Third-seeded Blake blew match points against No 5 Mathieu trying to serve out at 5-3 in the third. Instead, Mathieu extended their semifinal into a tiebreaker but lost momentum.

Blake, who won here in 2005, has reached the finals in Los Angeles and last week in Cincinnati to post a 16-2 record since the end of the grasscourt season. He's won only one of his previous four finals this year, in Sydney in January.