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August 11, 2009

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Pennetta clinches her 'biggest win ever'

FLAVIA Pennetta took advantage of error-prone Samantha Stosur for a 6-4, 6-3 victory in the LA Women's Tennis Championships in Carson, California, on Sunday, giving the Italian her second title of the year.

Pennetta followed up a three-set semifinal victory over Maria Sharapova by making quick work of Stosur, an Australian doubles specialist who has yet to win a WTA Tour title.

Stosur lost a final for the fifth time in her career, her serve letting her down with eight double faults. She also struggled with her forehand, which led to many of her 32 unforced errors. Pennetta made just 16 unforced errors and kept the Aussie on the run throughout.

"My serve was very good," Pennetta said. "I was very aggressive and I went to the net a few times and every time I went there, I won the point. That was a big step to improve my game."

Pennetta reached the final in Carson last year, losing to Dinara Safina, the world's top-ranked player who lost in the third round this time. Pennetta defeated seventh-ranked Vera Zvonareva in the quarterfinals, her third victory this year over a top-10 player.

"I started to play better on hardcourt two years ago," she said. "I was just playing clay court all the time. My serve is much better now, also my forehand."

Pennetta earned the only break of the first set in the seventh game, when her forehand hit the net and dropped on Stosur's side.

In the second set, Stosur broke Pennetta at 3-all before losing the final three games.

"Maybe I could've gone ahead there," Stosur said. "I didn't quite step up and go for some balls as well as I had earlier in the week. I wasn't overly nervous. I don't think I played bad. She played very well."

Stosur netted a forehand volley to set up match point and Pennetta closed it out on the next point with a forehand winner in the corner.

"Every match I improved," Pennetta said. "I had a great chance in the second set and I took it, that's why I won."

Pennetta earned Us$107,000 for what she called her "biggest win ever." The 27-year-old Italian's other title this year came last month at Palermo, and she was runner-up to Venus Williams at Acapulco in February.

She will rise two spots to No. 12 when the new rankings are released, one spot short of her career high of 11th.

Stosur will be ranked a career-best No. 17.

"I'm going to look back on the whole two weeks I had in California and I've got a lot to be happy with," she said. "I know I'm playing great tennis."


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