San Diego: Twice grand slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova reached her first final of the year when she crushed Flavia Pennetta 6-4, 6-0 at the San Diego Open on Saturday.
The powerful Kuznetsova mixed up speeds and spins to stifle the fleet-footed Pennetta, and broke the 15th-ranked Italian five times to set up a final with either Agnieszka Radwanska and Daniela Hantuchova, who play in the late semi-final.
Pennetta, who upset world number five Samantha Stosur in their quarter-final, surrendered her serve and the first set with a backhand error and was trounced in the second by her Russian opponent’s forehand and crisp returning.
“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, and said she felt comfortable playing the Italian.
“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.”
Kuznetsova has fallen to her lowest ranking in six years at 21, but hopes her game has finally turned the corner.
After being dumped out of Wimbledon early, she went to the Russian seaside resort of Sochi to train and try to find the form that captured the 2009 French Open title.
“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.”