Kuznetsova downs world No.1 in final
STUTTGART: Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Russian compatriot and world number one Dinara Safina 6-4, 6-3 in Sunday's final to win Stuttgart's WTA tournament to bring an end to her losing streak in finals.
The fifth-seed needed just one hour and 19 minutes to beat the highest-ranked player in the world in straight sets to claim the winner's prize of a new Porsche sports car.
Having beaten Olympic champion Elena Dementieva in Saturday's semi-final, Kuznetsova finally broke her losing streak here having lost the last six finals she had reached on the WTA tour.
Kuznetsova changed both her coach and moved back to Moscow last year from Spain to train and the Stuttgart champion said the win here is proof she is on the right track.
"I changed so many things in the last year, pretty much everything you can change in your career, so this win is a good sign," she said.
"I love being in Moscow, I love being back home, my soul feels at home in Russia."
Having lost her last four matches against Safina, Kuznetsova said she knew she had to come out fighting or risk her fifth straight defeat at the hands of the world number one.
"The last time I played Dinara she nearly blew me off the court (in Moscow last year), so I knew I had to be very aggressive from the start," said Kuznetsova.
"I had to keep my concentration throughout and focus to make sure I got the win.
"Now I am on a plane to Rome (for next week's WTA tournament), so I hope for a bit of rest before my next game."
The 23-year-old began in impressive fashion and needed only 43 minutes to take the first set and with Safina consistently over-hitting the ball, Kuznetsova had her first match point at 5-2 on her opponent's serve in the second.
Safina defended the point, but it was only a matter of time before Kuznetsova won out and after serving to her second match point, an over-head smash gave her the title, her first since she won at New Haven in 2007.
But having turned 23 on Monday, Safina admitted she has plenty to work on ahead of Roland Garros which starts in three weeks.
"There was nothing in my racquet today," she said glumly.
"I started the match too passively and that is something you just can't do against a player like her.
"I just didn't use my shots and I didn't really do anything to deserve to win this match.
"I tried to change a few things around as I had done against (Flavia) Pennetta (in the semi-final), but I couldn't do it again.
"I wasn't tired and in a way, it is a good test for me so close to the French Open to see what I need to work on."