Dinara Safina beats Flavia Pennetta, advances into Cincinnati final
Dinara Safina advanced to the final of the WTA Cincinnati Open with a brisk 6-2, 6-0 triumph overFlavia Pennetta.
Safina needed just 56 minutes to improve to 7-0 lifetime against Pennetta and will play the winner of a later semi-final between Elena Dementieva and Jelena Jankovic.
Pennetta defeated US third seed Venus Williams in the third round and was coming off her second career hardcourt title last week in Los Angeles, but could not repeat the feat in this US Open tuneup event.
Safina eliminated Kim Clijsters in the quarter-finals, spoiling the comeback of the former world number one after a two-year absence.
The Russian reached her eighth final in 14 tournaments this year.
“Every match I feel better,” Safina said. “Today, stepping on the court, I was feeling very good and confident. I was feeling very good stepping in.”
Pennetta admitted her run of success, which saw her playing her 11th match in 13 days, had taken a toll.
She had blisters on her feet and played with her aching right ankle taped.
“She was playing much better than me,” Pennetta said. “I was a little bit tired, of course, but I didn’t lose for that. She was playing unbelievable.”
While Pennetta didn’t want to make excuses, Safina said she could tell her opponent was running on empty.
“I know how it is playing that many matches in a row,” Safina said. “When somebody starts to put pressure on you from the first, it’s tough mentally to face it.”
Safina won the first six points of the match, earned an early break to take a 2-0 lead and never looked back.
“That was the key for myself. I wanted to put the pressure and to dominate, and not let her get into the match,” Safina said.
By reaching the semi-finals, Pennetta ensured she will become the first Italian woman to break into the top 10 when the rankings come out on Monday. She started this week ranked 12th.
Safina will try to wrap up her 17th straight week at number one with a title on Sunday.