Wimbledon: Vera Zvonareva first into women’s final

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Hiding her head underneath a towel at each changeover, as if she didn’t want to see the reward awaiting, 25-year-old Russian Vera Zvonareva, seeded 21st, made it to her first Wimbledon final with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over the unseeded, 82nd-ranked and eventually overwhelmed Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria.

This is Zvonareva’s first Grand Slam final. She is the third Russian woman to have made it this far and she conquered the nerves that so often cause kinks in her game, especially as the finish line appears. On Thursday, Zvonareva only got stronger as the match progressed, punishing the 22-year-old Pironkova with consistently deep groundstrokes.

‘I’m very excited,’ Zvonareva said. ‘I’m not realizing it all yet at the moment. I am happy at the way I was able to hang in the match and turn it around,’ she said. Zvonareva, who is working without a coach, is familiar to Southern California fans. She won the 2009 Indian Wells tournament, her biggest career victory.

-- Diane Pucin, reporting from Wimbledon, England