San Diego: Vera Zvonareva clawed her way into a WTA San Diego Open final with Agnieszka Radwanska as the Russian top seed struggled before beating Ana Ivanovic in their semi-final on Saturday.
Russian top seed Zvonareva, a part-time student of foreign policy in Moscow, held off a comeback from former number one Ivanovic, with the Serb charging from 1-5 down in the final set and saving a match point on the way to 4-5.
But Zvonareva, who will play her third final this season, finally prevailed after almost two and a half hours on her second match point a game later.
"I always come up with good tennis when I need it," said Zvonareva, the champion in her last event in Baku, Azerbaijan, who is riding a nine-match winning streak. "It seems when something is working well in my game I get bored."
"I make mistakes or go for stupid shots and I have to start the match all over again."
Poland's Radwanska, who has lost two matches to the Russian including at Miami in March, reached her second straight final in San Diego with a defeat of ailing Andrea Petkovic 4-6, 6-0, 6-4.
Petkovic, the second seed from Germany was hampered by a stomach virus and had to sprint through the stands to leave the court at mid-game in the second set as her stomach played up.
She returned, made her apologies and dropped the second set 0-6.
"I had something bad for lunch," explained the German. "I tried eating a banana before the match but that made it worse. It was like a rock in my stomach that I had to get rid of."
She added that the decision to run off court as opposed to perhaps being ill on it was a careful deliberation: "I didn't want to be on (ESPN programme) SportsCenter for the next 25 years," she joked, a reference to a clip of Pete Sampras once throwing up at the US Open that has received repeated play on television.
"After, I felt much, much better but the problem was that I dropped intensity. I had trouble finding back my focus and my intensity after that."
"I felt fine throughout the whole match. Afterwards, I felt sick again, but throughout the match I felt totally fine after that little incident."
Interruption aside, third-seeded Radwanska called the contest "a very tough match."
"Even if she was sick she was playing incredibly. It was great to finally win."
Against Ivanovic, who was number one in 2008 after winning the Roland Garros title, Zvonareva made life tough on herself.
The world number three dropped a lead in the opening set to lose it and needed seven set points to square the contest by winning the second.
In the third, she began with two breaks of Ivanovic but left it until late to secure the victory.