Kuznetsova dumps Jankovic out

Rome, May 7: Seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova dumped reigning champion Jelena Jankovic out of the Rome Masters 6-1, 7-6 (7/3) with a powerful performance in quarter-finals on Thursday.

In doing so, 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 No 4. 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 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. 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 victory with another typical backhand winner down the line.

On Wednesday, Top-ranked Dinara Safina rallied past Zheng Jie 5-7, 6-1, 7-6 (3) to reach the quarter-finals. Venus Williams struggled to defeat Anna Chakvetadze 6-0, 6-7 (8), 6-4, and Ana Ivanovic squandered a four-game lead in the decisive set against Agnieszka Radwanska to lose 6-1, 3-6, 6-4.

Safina is looking to win her first title since becoming No 1 last month. The Russian had an erratic game, losing her serve seven times. But Safina rallied from 5-2 down in the third set and won the last six points of the tiebreaker. Patty Schnyder, who beat Serena Williams in three sets in a match that ended early on Wednesday, lost 6-3, 6-0 to Kaia Kanepi.