Russian roulette for Safina and Kuznetsova
WORLD number one Dinara Safina hopes it will be third time lucky in the French Open final on Saturday as she aims to win her maiden Grand Slam.
MY TIME: Dinara Safina hopes it will be third time lucky at Roland Garros on Saturday
The top seed lines up against seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in the fourth ever all-Russian Grand Slam final but Roland Garros organisers are praying the match wont resemble the last one.
The 2004 French Open final was one of the shortest in the tournament's history with Anastasia Myskina breezing past a nervous Elena Dementieva 6-1, 6-2 - a match that did the reputation of women's tennis no good at all.
But few will be expecting a similar match on Saturday - the pair have been the two most consistent players during the clay court season with Safina dropping just one set en route to the final and Kuznetsova overcoming a fiery Serena Williams in the quarter finals.
Having won the premier events in Rome and Madrid, Safina is on an 18-match unbeaten streak but will be well aware that the last person to beat her was Kuznetsova, in the final in Stuttgart.
But the world number one got revenge in the Rome final two weeks later and believes she is well-equiped to lift the trophy in Paris, having finished runner-up last year.
"I wouldn't say that I was too nervous last year," insisted Safina.
"I was just tired overall. I had such a tough draw and so many matches I had to pull out of the bag.
"But this year I have spent much less time on the court, so I'm a lot fresher."
And the top seed will need all her energy against Kuznetsova who, having won the US Open in 2004, already has the experience of winning a Grand Slam title under her belt.
However, like Safina, the seventh seed knows the pain of finishing runner-up in a French Open final after losing to Justine Henin in the final in 2006.
In their previous 13 encounters, Safina has come out on top on eight occasions but the 23-year-old is adamant history will not come into Saturday's clash.
"It's a completely new match," said Kuznetsova.
"It's a completely different day and it doesn't matter if I've won 15 times before or if she's won 15 times before. It's a completely new day.
"There's going to be stress and there's going to be emotion, but I will just try to put it away and go out and win."