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Canada and Sweden on Course for Women's Final Matchup

Suzhou, China - Canada's Rachel Homan (WCF photo by Celine Stucki) and Anna Hasselborg of Sweden remain on course for a showdown in the women's final of the Curling World Cup first leg in Suzhou.

Olympic champions Sweden are just one point away after beating Scotland 6-4 in a morning session game in which they started and finished well, but suffered a mid-game mini-slump.

They returned in session three for a more straight-forward 9-2 triumph against China, and now only need to avoid defeat in Saturday's morning match with Japan to confirm their passage through to Sunday's final.

After their morning win, vice-skip Sara McManus revealed that the Swedes had had a 'rough summer' in which they had struggled to process their Olympic victory in PyeongChang and World Championship silver medal earlier this year.

"We have been so tired," she said. "It was a pretty special feeling winning the Olympics then winning the silver at the Worlds. Afterwards, we couldn't figure out what we were feeling. We felt empty inside even though we thought we should have been up in the clouds. We couldn't understand it."

"It would be a huge thing for us to be in the final here and prove to ourselves that we belong there, and that last season wasn't just a coincidence."

Team Homan are the favourites to reach the final from the other side of the draw after two more victories on Friday - a 9-1 vanquishing of United States' Team Roth and 8-2 over Russia's Team Sidorova in the evening.

It was toe-toe with the Russians until they pulled clear in the fifth and sixth ends. "That was really tight," the skip said afterwards. "They were making a pile of shots and we were in trouble, looking at maybe a four or five for them in the first end. We got away with it and kept trying to improve every end and got a few misses out of them at the end."

The morning victory over Team Roth featured a critical steal for five in the fifth end. "We're playing really well, picking up on the ice and it's nice to come out with another win," said first Lisa Weagle. "It felt like we were in control. We had a really good handle on the draw weight and what the sheet was doing."

Canada's win over Russia would have guaranteed a final place, but Team Roth made them wait by pulling off an 8-5 win over Korea thanks to a huge three in the penultimate end. The gap between them in Group B is three points with two to play.

It was a good day for Japan in Group A with a 7-2 victory over China and 7-5 success against Scotland, having been without a point at the start of the day.

Vice-skip Chinami Yoshida reflected: "This is the first competition for us this season so we are so glad to be performing here and it's still exciting. I was really surprised when I saw this building because it's more like the Olympics! I love it here!"

Russia may be out of the reckoning but they at least got their first three points as a newly formed foursome by beating Korea 11-1 in session two.

"We are not used to playing together and we've only had two practice games," said Sidorova. "This was our best work so far. I wanted to be a leader but I screwed up the game yesterday and I really needed to pay better for myself."

"We have used these games to get the connection between ourselves. If you want to win any event somewhere, especially with top teams like Homan here, you need to be a really good team with good communication otherwise you have little chance."

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