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Safina sets up Kuznetsova final in Tokyo

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Sat, Sep 20, 2008 14:37 hrs
tennis

Tokyo: Dinara Safina and Svetlana Kuznetsova muscled their way to straight-set wins on Saturday to set up an all-Russian final at the Pan Pacific Open.

Fourth seed Safina crushed compatriot Nadia Petrova 6-1, 6-0 after the fifth-seeded Kuznetsova had beaten Slovenia's Katarina Srebotnik 7-6, 6-2 in the day's first semi-final.

Victory for the only surviving seeds will also have calmed sponsors' concerns following the early demise of six of the top eight players at the Tier One event in Tokyo.

Safina took just 52 minutes to overpower Petrova, who had upset second seed Ana Ivanovic and sixth seed Agnieszka Radwanska on her way to the last four.

"Everything went my way," Safina told reporters after her first win over Petrova in six meetings. "It was almost perfect. It showed me how I can play."

Safina, a French Open finalist and US Open semi-finalist this year, is set to rise to a career-high three or four in the world if she can win her fourth title of 2008.

Kuznetsova, who helped Russia retain their Fed Cup title in Spain last weekend, came out cold against Srebotnik, surrendering her serve in the first game.

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QUICK RECOVERY

However, she quickly recovered to win the first set on a tiebreak, sealed with a superb drop volley.

The former US Open champion's greater big-game experience showed in the second set and she closed out the match with a huge serve which Srebotnik could only dump into the net.

"The Fed Cup gave me motivation," Kuznetsova said. "It gave me power from inside."

Kuznetsova identified her serve as the key to beating the hard-hitting Safina in Sunday's final.

"I don't expect too many aces with my serve but it needs to be better," Kuznetsova said after facing 11 break points against qualifier Srebotnik.

"Some days it works, some days it doesn't. If it doesn't work, I'll have to fight for every point."

Six of the world's top 10 players entered the $1.34 million Pan Pacific tournament, although number one Serena Williams did not make the trip.


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