Published January 13, 2015
Moscow, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Samantha Stosur and Simona Halep were semifinal winners Saturday and denied a potential all-Russian final at the Kremlin Cup.
Stosur is back in the Moscow final for the second year in a row after a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Russian veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova in a battle of former U.S. Open champions, while the fifth-seeded Halep thumped crowd favorite Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 6-2, 6-1.
The seventh-seeded Stosur lost to Caroline Wozniacki in last year's final, but on Sunday will try for her second consecutive tournament triumph. The Aussie won last week in Osaka for her fifth career title and has now won nine straight matches.
Halep will try for her fifth title of the year on Sunday. She had a breakout summer, first with victories in consecutive weeks in June at Nuremburg and Den Bosch, then with a title in Budapest in July and another in August in New Haven.
The 22-year-old Romanian had her best Grand Slam showing with a fourth-round exit at the U.S. Open, but entered this week's event off a first-round loss to Urszula Radwanska in Beijing.
Halep has not lost a set this week and dominated Saturday's second semifinal from the start. She was broken only once and broke Pavlyuchenkova six times in the Russian's eight service games during the 75-minute rout.
The other Russian didn't fare too well on Saturday, either.
Kuznetsova struggled from the outset and fell to Stosur for the third time in as many meetings this year. She won just six of the 23 points while serving in the first set and was broken in each of her four service games.
Stosur then opened a 5-1 lead in the second set and nearly let it get away, failing to hold serve twice as Kuznetsova battled back, but the Russian was broken yet again and sent a shot wide to give Stosur the match.
Kuznetsova has still never won a tournament in her native Russia and was beaten in the semifinals of this event for the second time. She lost to Serena Williams in the 2007 round of four. The 28-year-old hasn't won a tournament since the last of her 13 career titles three years ago in San Diego.
Stosur has won three of the four lifetime meetings with Halep, but the Romanian won the lone matchup this year -- a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 triumph in the round of 16 in Cincinnati this summer.
Sunday's winner will receive a first prize of $132,470.