Kuznetsova-Puig in Sydney women’s final

Dual grand slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova will play qualifier Monica Puig in Friday night’s final of the Sydney International.

The 30-year-old Kuznetsova trailed world No.2 Simona Halep 5-4 in the first set when rain halted play late on Thursday night and gave up the second when the match resumed on Friday morning.

However, the world No.25 partnered her trademark fighting qualities with some powerful groundstrokes in the third – and saved five match points – to eventually register a 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-3 win.

Kuznetsova has yet to claim a Sydney title in 10 attempts, including a final loss to former world No.1 and seven-time grand-slam winner Justine Henin.

The Russian will meet Puerto Rican surprise packet Puig, who earlier booked just the second final of her career when eighth-seed Belinda Bencic retired due to illness.

Puig, who shocked Australian No.1 Sam Stosur earlier in the tournament, claimed the first set 6-0 when Bencic called it quits.

“I retired today because I was throwing up all morning and feeling sick,” the 18-year-old Bencic said.

Halep will turn her attention to Monday’s Australian Open in Melbourne, where she’ll take on a qualifier in the first round.

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