MOSCOW: The Kremlin Cup final will be an all-Russian affair for the first time after defending champion Anastasia Myskina beat new world number one Lindsay Davenport of the United States here yesterday.
Myskina, also the French Open champion, had already met Davenport four times but on this occasion the second seed's ill health was a factor in the Russian's 6-4, 7-6 (7-1) victory, her first over Davenport, in 1hr 18min.
In what will be her fourth final this season Myskina will face Elena Dementieva, the fifth seed, who beat another Russian, Elena Bovina, 6-4, 7-5.
The first break of serve didn't arrive until the tenth game, when Myskina broke to take a 1-0 lead.
In the second set, the duo traded breaks from the start but a tie-break loomed, and Myskina held sway to set up the first ever all-Russian final at the Kremlin Cup.
I desperately wanted to win today, said Myskina.
It helped me a lot that Lindsay was feeling ill, while I have just recovered from a fever.
The surface is also rather slow which is better for me as Lindsay doesn't like long rallies.
Davenport, who regained top spot in the world rankings with a second round success here earlier in the week, admitted her poor health had left her depleted.
I felt like I couldn't play at 100%, said Davenport.
Of course it's a disappointment to lose but I have positive feelings about my performance here.
Dementieva, a two-time Grand Slam runner-up this year, had no such advantage over a healthy Bovina, who lost her way in the first set when Dementieva broke serve in the third game before taking the set inside 40 minutes.
In the second the opponents produced seven breaks, but Dementieva's precision made the difference and she went on to claim the match in 1hr 40 min to record her fifth win in their seven head-to-head meetings.
On the men's side, unseeded Briton Greg Rusedski upset second seed Joachim Johansson of Sweden in three tough tie-break sets which lasted more than 2½ hours on Friday.
In a battle between two power hitters in the men's tournament, Johansson fired more aces than Rusedski, 33 to 32.
But the Canadian-born Briton was the one who advanced to the last four where he will meet third-seeded Slovak Dominik Hrbaty, who prevailed over unseeded Russian Igor Kunitsyn 7-6, 6-4.
I was very pleased how I played, how we both played, said Rusedski, who is trying to get his tennis career on track after battling injury and being cleared of doping charges.
I dominated the first two sets, especially the first set. The second set I had more break chances, but he played a great tiebreaker. Fortunately, I started serving better in the third set.
The second semi-final will be an all-Russian affair between fifth-seeded Mikhail Youzhny and eighth seed Nikolay Davydenko.
Russia's 2002 Davis Cup hero Youzhny beat unseeded Dane Kenneth Carlsen 6-2, 7-6. Davydenko overcame Radek Stepanek 7-6, 5-7, 6-1. The Czech had knocked out top seed Marat Safin in the previous round. Agencies