Kanepi to meet Hantuchova in Brisbane final

An unlikely final was all set in Friday’s semi-finals as Daniela Hantuchova and Kaia Kanepi both won against struggling opponents.  At the start of the week, the names of Kim Clijsters, Serena Williams and Sam Stosur were all being mentioned as possible winners however things have not turned out as many (including me!) predicted in Brisbane.  Hantuchova was first into the final after Kim Clijsters retired with a hip injury leading at 7-6 1-3.  Hantuchova raced out into a 4-1 lead and looked solid as Clijsters struggled to find her range.  Hantuchova had her chances to win the set, but Clijsters came roaring back to take the set on a tiebreak.  Clijsters retired early in the second set with Hantuchova up a break.  I think she will be OK for the Australian Open and the retirement was just a precaution.  Overall it has been a rather disappointing week in Brisbane, which promised some big matches but has failed to deliver with a host of withdrawals and retirements.
In the second semi-final, Kaia Kanepi was firing on all cylinders as she beat an under-the-weather, Francesca Schiavone, 6-3 6-0.  Schiavone had a medical time-out during the second set and looked to be suffering from some kind of illness, but to her credit she did not give up.  Kanepi was totally dominant on serve as she has been all week as she lost just one point on her first serve.  The Estonian has really shone this week and will now move into the top 30, which will guarantee her a seeding at the Australian Open.  Both Hantuchova and Kanepi have a history of mental lapses, but I think Kaia will be too strong tomorrow and take the Brisbane title…
In Auckland, Zheng Jie caused an upset to take out Svetlana Kuznetsova, 2-6 6-3 6-3.  I was pretty certain Kuznetsova would win and things looked that way as she raced into a 5-0 first set lead.  However Zheng came fighting back and won her first ever match against Kuznetsova in 7 attempts.  Zheng will play Flavia Pennetta in the final, who had another excellent victory losing just three games to Angelique Kerber.  Both Pennetta and Zheng have looked in great form this week, but I would have to back Pennetta to win the title.
Final Predictions:
WTA Brisbane – Kaia Kanepi to beat Daniela Hantuchova in 2 sets
WTA Auckland – Flavia Pennetta to beat Zheng Jie in 2 sets

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