Mary Pierce stormed into her first grand slam final in five years by crushing Russia's Elena Likhovtseva in straight sets at the French Open here yesterday.
Pierce, whose win at Roland Garros in 2000 was the last time she took part in a title match in one of the four majors, was too strong for a nervous Likhovtseva, wrapping up a 6-1, 6-1 triumph in only 58 minutes.
Home favourite Pierce will play Belgium's Justine Henin-Hardenne in tomorrow's final.
Former world No 1 Henin-Hardenne beat Nadia Petrova 6-2, 6-3 in yesterday's first semi-final.
Henin-Hardenne could not hide her joy after showing who was boss on the Philippe Chatrier court as she displayed a flawless performance to overcome the Russian, seeded seven.
The Belgian tenth seed broke twice in the first set which she won in 34 minutes before repeating the performance to seal the match in just over one hour.
After suffering glandular fever and then a knee injury in 2004 a delighted Henin-Hardenne, who celebrated her 23rd birthday on Wednesday, said: "This is a tremendous reward after what happened to me last year.
"I said last year that if I had to reach one last grand slam final in my career it would be at Roland Garros.
"This tournament is so special for me. I love this place, I feel I am at home.
"There are a lot of emotions for me and I hope I can win it many more times. And I could not dream of a better birthday present."
Henin- Hardenne, who extended her winning streak to 23 matches, kept the pressure up on her shell-shocked opponent throughtout.
The Belgian, who has won 22 titles in her young career, is starting to feel the strain, saying: "I am getting tired, that's why I was happy that I closed out the match so fast. My legs feel heavy and my thigh is not getting better either but it's not getting worse either."
Petrova, magnanimous in defeat, said: "She really played well. She started very aggressively and was really going for her shots. She kept me in trouble all the time and hit balls very deep and close to the lines." Pierce, who reached the final in Paris in 1994 before winning the Australian Open a year later, said: "Once again I am stunned and surprised to have won so fast.
"But I remained very solid mentally throughout the match. I played very well also. This is unbelievable and fantastic to be here in the final again.
"I dreamt of winning Roland Garros and I did it once. Being in the final again is better than in 2000.
"What is happening to me is not a fairytale at all, I worked very hard to get to where I am.
"I also believe in myself. When I was so down with my injuries there was a voice inside me saying that there still was something to do for me in tennis. I listened to that voice and tried to never give up."
Likhovtseva said she felt unable to stop Pierce. "I fell apart, I was struggling to find my game back," she said. "She had good tactics and it worked.
"It was also tough because she took lot of time between the points. It's a little bit annoying but I have played her many times so I knew.
"She moves better than she used to and managed to dictate the game." The last time Pierce and Henin-Hardenne met was at the Athens Olympics when the French woman lost to the Belgian who later won gold.
Pierce said: "I absolutely appreciate and admire Justine both as a player and a woman.
"She has experienced a lot of tough moments in her life and she is now back. I am very happy for her."