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Kuznetsova hits form to storm past Dementieva

WORLD No. 9 Svetlana Kuznetsova marched into the Porsche Grand Prix final in Stuttgart yesterday, crushing fellow Russian Elena Dementieva 6-4, 6-2 in just 67 minutes.

The former US Open champion will now meet the winner of the other semifinal between world No. 1 Dinara Safina and Italy's Flavia Pennetta.

Kuznetsova, the fifth seed, was dominant throughout and took more chances than her second seeded opponent who littered the claycourt with errors.

Kuznetsova broke the 2008 Olympic champion twice in the first set and gave the world No. 3 no chance in the second, racing to a 3-0 lead and breaking again to win.

On Friday, Pennetta caused an upset by beating third seed Jelena Jankovic 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 while Safina swept aside Pole Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 6-2.

Jankovic, of Serbia, came into the match with a 7-0 record on clay this season after winning her first title of the year in Marbella, Spain.

But the unseeded Pennetta proved to be the steadier player from the baseline and hit 32 winners, twice as many as Jankovic.

Heavy rain

Elsewhere, Roger Federer's Rome Masters semifinal against defending champion Novak Djokovic was interrupted by heavy rain yesterday with the Swiss second seed leading 6-4, 2-1.

Federer made the better start and broke in the ninth game after failing to put away five previous break points.

Serb Djokovic's concentration had been disturbed by someone in the crowd whistling just as he was about to serve the crucial point and he was broken again at the start of the second set.

The winner will meet Rafael Nadal in the final today if the world No. 1 beats Chilean 12th seed Fernando Gonzalez.

Nadal beat fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-3 on Friday while Gonzalez was a 2-6 6-3 6-4 winner over qualifier Juan Monaco.

Sixth seed Verdasco, who pushed Nadal hard in a five-setter at this year's Australian Open, was on level terms after an exchange of breaks in the first two games.

The world No. 1 over-hit a number of shots but could not be budged off his serve again, pulling off a couple of sublime lobs as he found his rhythm to take the first set.

It was tight in the second set too until the eighth game when Nadal broke again after Verdasco hit an easy backhand volley wide at the net.

"I didn't play my best," Nadal said after he had saved five break points in the second set. "I made some mistakes especially in the second set. I was a little bit lucky (because) he made mistakes on some important points."


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