Bali (Indonesia), Nov 6 : Ana Ivanovic celebrated her 23rd birthday with a fighting 7-5, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2 win over Kimiko Date Krumm Saturday which took her into the final of the Bali Tournament of Champions against Alisa Kleybanova.
Former number one and 2008 French Open winner Ivanovic had to struggle for almost two and a half hours to subdue the fighting-fit 40-year-old WTA comeback queen Date Krum.
On the other hand, Kleybanova took a mere 71 minutes to sink Slovak Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 6-1.
The Russian, who claimed her first two career titles this year in Asia at Kuala Lumpur and Seoul, is now a win away from her third in the East.
Kleybanova, ranked 27th to the 31 of former Bali semi-finalist Hantuchova, overwhelmed the Slovak in the rout at a huge hotel ballroom laid out with a tennis court.
"My serve was the key, it really helped me on important points in the first set," said Kleybanova. "I was able to mix it up in the second set and hit some aces."
Ivanovic has recovered from the depths of a 65th ranking at the start of the season, now rising to 24th as she works her way back towards the elite zone.
The Serb qualified for the eight-woman Bali event for winners of International-level events by winning Linz last month, her first title in two years since last winning the Austrian tournament.
"The final will be tough, for the moment it is important for me to recover for tomorrow," said Ivanovic.
"Today was a tough match, physically and mentally. The rhythm on my serve was not there in the beginning, but I managed to stay calm and win that first set.
"I had match point in the second set but she played really well in that game, and I'm just happy to win in the end. She hits the ball hard and low, so you really have to bend and use your legs, which is hard at my height."
Ivanovic won the first set after early struggles and had the chance to close it out in straight sets before missing on a match point in the 12th game of the second set.
After losing the ensuing tiebreaker, Ivanovic eventually powered through the third to triumph on her first match point.
Ivanovic goes into the final standing 3-3 against Kleybanova after defeating the Russian in September in Tokyo. The Serb now stands 32-20 on the season.
The 53rd-ranked Date Krumm, who quit the game in the late 1990s but made a successful comeback to the Tour three years ago, was playing Bali for the second straight edition as a wild card entry.
She was put under pressure by Ivanovic and forced to save 14 break points.
"I just tried to focus but I was still tired from the first round. I felt my body was quite heavy," said Date Krumm.
"She missed a lot at the beginning so I had luck, but after that her serve was getting better, a lot of aces, and I could not control anymore."(DPA)