Originally created 05/02/04

Williams in J&S Cup final match



WARSAW, Poland - Venus Williams reached the J&S Cup final for the second straight year after beating third-seeded Vera Zvonareva, 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday.

Williams, who retired from last year's final with a stomach muscle injury, will face fourth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia for the title. Kuznetsova downed ninth-seeded Francesca Schiavone of Italy, 6-3, 6-2.

The second-seeded Williams was tested during strong baseline exchanges but always had the upper hand against Zvonareva, who beat her at the French Open last year.

Williams said feels as though she is returning to top form.

"This has been my best match," Williams said. "I guess it's been a little while. It's the match I've been able to move my best and really compete well. It's just been a long way back for me from so many injuries, so many frustrations. This proves that so much hard work and dedication and hope is worth it."

A tired Schiavone failed to pull off another upset as Kuznetsova reached her third final of the year.

In the quarterfinals, Schiavone eliminated defending champion Amelie Mauresmo of France.

"Yesterday I put a lot of energy into my match with Amelie Mauresmo, and then I played doubles for 2 hours," Schiavone said. "Maybe next time I don't play doubles. I am young and this is a learning experience for me."

Kuznetsova had little trouble with the Italian, who called for treatment on her cramping legs in the second set.

Earlier this year, Kuznetsova reached the final in Dubai after beating Williams in the quarterfinals. She then lost to Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium.

OPEN SEAT GODO: In Barcelona, Spain, Gaston Gaudio of Argentina and Tommy Robredo of Spain won their semifinal matches to advance to the final. Gaudio, the 2002 champion and seeded 13th, edged Albert Montanes of Spain, 6-3, 6-4, while the eighth-seeded Robredo eliminated Kristof Vliegen of Belgium, 6-4, 6-3.

BMW OPEN: In Munich, Germany, Martin Verkerk of the Netherlands and Nikolay Davydenko of Russia posted straight-set victories to reach the final.

Verkerk, a French Open finalist last year, fought off a set point before beating Olivier Rochus of Belgium, 7-6 (2), 6-3, at the clay-court event.

Davydenko needed 84 minutes to defeat Luis Horna of Peru, 6-4, 6-1.

BUDAPEST GRAND PRIX: In Budapest, Hungary, Jelena Jankovic of Serbia-Montenegro beat Flavia Pennetta, 6-3, 6-4, setting up a meeting in the final with Martina Sucha.

Sucha upset sixth-seeded Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic, 4-6, 7-5, 6-0, and is aiming for her second WTA title.

In the other semifinal, Jankovic also exchanged several service breaks with Pennetta.

The first set was balanced until Jankovic broke Pennetta's serve for a 5-3 advantage and then served to win.

The second set was tied 4-4 before Jankovic broke Pennetta and then closed out the match.

Andreu Dalmau/Associated PressGaston Gaudio moved into the final of the Open Seat Godo event in Barcelona, Spain, on Saturday with a win over Albert Montanes.