World news – Gasparyan blinds Zvonareva and reaches the final in St. Petersburg


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In a clash of Russian wild cards in the semi-finals of the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy, Margarita Gasparyan reached the biggest final of her career after beating Vera Zvonareva in straight sets and saving four set points in the second set.

By Alex Macpherson

Photo from Formula TX

The one-handed backhand may be rarer than it used to be on the WTA tour, but it will bloom in 2021. In the semifinals of the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy, Margarita Gasparyan’s one-hand shone when she beat Vera Zvonareva 6-3, 7-6 defeated (9) in a tense clash of Russian wild cards, with four set points saved in the second set.

The result brings Gasparyan, previously a champion at Baku 2015 and Tashkent 2018, into her first WTA 500 final. The last one-handed backhand player to reach a final at this level was Carla Suárez Navarro at New Haven 2018; The Spaniard was also the last 500-or-over champion with a one-handed backhand in Doha in 2016. Gasparyan is the second WTA finalist of the season with a one-handed backhand after Lyon runners-up Viktorija Golubic.

A walking highlight -Role @Formula_TX this week arMargarita Gasparyan is doing 𝑀𝑎𝑟𝑔𝑎𝑟𝑖𝑡𝑎 𝐺𝑎𝑠𝑝𝑎𝑟𝑦𝑎𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔𝑠 to get the first set against Zvonareva 😎 # FormulaTX

Gasparyan’s pattern this week was to get the sets by a healthy margin to begin with – enough to get her across the line despite a few twists and turns. The 26-year-old had her game under control and took a 4-1 lead. It was harder to hold on to, but Gasparyan saved her best shots for the greatest moments: a forehand winner across the board to reclaim the doubles break 5-2, a cross-court backhand stunner to seal her first set point.

In the second set, Zvonareva showed real persistence in holding on – and almost made the comeback. The 36-year-old former number 2 in the world, who wanted to reach her first final since Tokyo 2011, brought Gasparyan back from 3-0 to 3-3 and then forced a tiebreak from 3-5 down.

What a One moment for Margarita Gasparyan 🥲Ruled out a tense tie-break to reach the BIGGEST WTA final of her career! #FormulaTX

By this point, Zvonareva had almost completely eliminated the bugs they had at the start of the game, while the accuracy of a nervous Gasparyan fluctuated wildly. But at the business end of the tie, it was the older player who stalled.

Zvonareva had a 6-4 lead and eventually held four points to force a decision. But a tame return and only a broad backhand wasted two of them. Refusing to retract her shots, Gasparyan saved the other two with wild forehand winners and ended the win on their second with another rally-deserving climax.

World # 126 Gasparyan is the player with the lowest rank to have reached a WTA final of 500 or more since World No. 153 Svetlana Kuznetsova finished second at Cincinnati in 2019.The title match on Sunday is the 30th all-Russian WTA final and the first since her loss to Anastasia Potapova in Tashkent 2018.

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