San Diego: Agnieszka Radwanska disposed of a pesky Daniela Hantuchova on her eighth match point to make the final of the San Diego Open with a 6-4, 6-2 victory on Saturday.
The 21-year-old Pole will meet two-time grand slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in Sunday’s final, after the powerful Russian stormed to a crushing 6-4, 6-0 win over Italy’s Flavia Pennetta.
Radwanska, who has been in good touch in the U.S. hardcourt season, darted around the court to wrong-foot her taller opponent and charged into the net at every opportunity.
Slovak Hantuchova fought off seven match points in the 20-minute seventh game of the second set, but was bested in the following game by a service winner.
“She was serving so good in that long game I was thinking, ‘can you just miss one serve?’” Radwanska, a semi-finalist at last week’s Stanford Classic, told reporters. “Thank god I took the last one.”
World number 10 Radwanska last played Kuznetsova in the final of the China Open in October which the Russian won 6-2 6-4 to improve her head-to-head record to 6-3 against the Pole.
Radwanska is likely to face a similar stiff test in the San Diego final, after Kuznetsova showed glimpses of the form that delivered her the 2009 French Open title in her semi-final.
The Russian mixed up speeds and spins to stifle the fleet-footed Pennetta, and broke the 15th-ranked Italian five times with slick service returns and her forehand on song.
“I served really bad and she was just more powerful than me,” said Pennetta, who has lost to Kuznetsova in all four of their meetings. “She was always getting on top of my ball and had me running all the time. She has a strong base.”
Kuznetsova sealed the win with a cracking forehand return, her 26th of the match.
“She doesn’t overpower me but I know how to read her game,” the 25-year-old said. “I can mix it up and she doesn’t know where I’m going to go.”
The Russian has fallen to her lowest ranking in six years at 21 after being dumped out of Wimbledon early, but training at the Russian seaside resort of Sochi seems to have helped her regain her touch.
“I’m playing better, but I’m far from where I want to be,” she said. “I lost my game a little. I don’t see myself playing like Vera (Zvonareva) where everything is flat.
“Like that, I feel beatable. I need to use my spin and play the right shots at the right times.”