Kuznetsova ends Jankovic's Italian reign

A week after beating world number one Dinara Safina in the final in Stuttgart, the in-form Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova ousted Jelena Jankovic in the quarter-finals in Rome (6-1, 7-6), putting an end to the Serb's two-year reign in Italy.


AFP - Seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova dumped reigning champion Jelena Jankovic out of the WTA Rome claycourt international 6-1, 7-6 (7/3) with a powerful performance in Thursday's quarter-finals.

In so doing, the Russian 23-year-old gained revenge on Jankovic, who beat her in the 2007 final here, the first of two successive titles in Rome for the Serbian world number four.

Kuznetsova, ranked eight in the world, proved too good for the third seed, pinging winners off both wings throughout the match as Jankovic struggled to deal with her opponent's power.

The Serbian was gracious in defeat, paying tribute to her opponent.

"She was playing very good tennis out there. She was hitting the ball very, very well with a lot of power and deep," admitted Jankovic.

"She didn't allow me to play my game and especially that was the case in the first set.

"Then I started to a little bit change the way I was playing and my tactics a little bit in the second set but it was a little bit too late.

"I had some chances, I had two set points in the second and didn't take them and then everything went her way.

"But from the beginning I didn't play tactically well. I played what she liked, and, of course, she has more power than me.

"Today was her day, she was the better player, she deserved to win."

The Russian fired over 27 winners to just 12 from Jankovic, more than making up for her 25 unforced errors, only six more than her opponent produced.

Kuznetsova's opponent in the previous round Flavia Pennetta of Italy said she was the women's version of Rafael Nadal, something she herself humbly denied.

"Well, that's a big compliment for me but I don't think so because Rafa's won Roland Garros many times and most of the tournaments on clay," she said.

"Maybe of all the girls I play the most similar to Rafa. Well, I also grew up in Spain on clay court."

Kuznetsova is aiming for her second title of the year and in successive weeks having won the Stuttgart indoor tournament on Sunday.

And she says consistency is the key for her.

"It's my main problem, actually. I have all the game, I have all the shots,  but when I have this consistency I play much better and I play like the last two weeks," she added.

The first set was one-way traffic as Jankovic failed to get a foothold in a match that looked to be running away from her.

But in the second she knuckled down and stayed in contention, although she still went down a break.

The Serbian's battling qualities came to the fore as she hung in there and broke back to love when Kuznetsova was serving for the match at 5-4.

And Jankovic even had two set points at 6-5 and 15-40 on Kuznetsova's serve but she could take neither and the Russian went on to stroll through the tie-break before sealing the victory with another typical backhand winner down the line.

She next plays sixth seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus who beat Estonian 16th seed Kaia Kanepi 7-6 (7/5), 6-3, sealing the match with an ace.

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