Elena Vesnina’s dream week continued on Saturday in Charleston, as the world number 85 stunned former French Open runner-up Sara Errani to reach the final of the Volvo Car Open. In a back and forth battle, it was the Russian who edged the clay court specialist 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 to booker her place in the final.
Vesnina Battles Back to Claim Early Lead
Errani was unquestionably the favourite going into the match, and it appeared as though the match was going with the anticipated plot, when the Italian grabbed an early break and stretched her lead to 3-1 before Vesnina started to get her act together. Already trailing, Vesnina began to resist the former French Open runner-ups crafty play with her powerful groundstroke assault. She soon reclaimed the break and closed to 3-4
Having lost her break lead, Errani wasted no time in putting the pressure back on the Russian, bringing up a break point in the eighth game. The momentum of the set seemed to completely swing on that break point, as Vesnina unleashed a huge crosscourt forehand to save the break point. She held serve and went on to break in the following game with a beautiful drop shot to lead 5-4. Before long, the Russian had served out the opening set for the lead.
Errani Retakes Control
Errani was not to be deterred after dropping the opening set. The pair exchanged breaks in the early stages of the second set, but it was the 2012 French Open runner-up who kept the pressure on her opponent. As is tradition in tennis, the seventh game proved to be the crucial one. With Vesnina serving, Errani battled her way to a group of break points. At 15-40, the Italian resisted some big ground strokes from her opponent before turning defence into offence with a brilliant passing shot to claim the break and a 4-3 led. The Italian held on to claim the opening set and force a deciding set.
Vesnina Races into Final
The momentum seemed to be in Errani’s corner as they entered a deciding set. She broke Vesnina early for a 2-1 lead and seemed well on her way to a spot in the final. That’s when the Russian completely turned the match around. She broke back for 2-2 and at that point, the momentum was entirely in her corner. From 1-2 down, the world number eighty won five straight games, including three breaks, to race through the deciding set and book her place in her first final since 2013.
By the Numbers
Neither woman was particularly strong on their first serve, and was below 50 percent on second serve points won. However, it was the Russian who put more pressure on her opponents serve, reaching break point 14 times, converting six of them. She saved seven of the 11 break points against her own serve.
Vesnina will contest her ninth career final on Sunday when she takes on Sloane Stephens. It will be Vesnina’s second career final at this event, having lost the 2011 final. The Russian is looking for her first title since 2013, and first ever title on clay.