Kuznetsova reaches Stuttgart final

STUTTGART: Fifth-seed Svetlana Kuznetsova needed just 67 minutes to beat fellow Russian Elena Dementieva 6-4, 6-2 in Saturday's semi-final of Stuttgart's WTA tournament to reach her first final of the year.

The 23-year-old was rarely troubled by Olympic champion Dementieva and having blasted through the first set in 38 minutes, Kuznetsova needed only 29 minutes to take the second.

She will play either world number one Dinara Safina or unseeded Italian Flavia Pennetta in Sunday's final.

"I was extremely focused," said Kuznetsova who is ranked ninth in the world and broke her eight-match losing streak against top ten players.

"I controlled the court and I am happy with the way I played.

"I wanted to come out and play very aggressively - I did that."

Kuznetsova made an aggressive start to lead the first set 3-1 before Olympic champion Dementieva rallied to level the scores at 3-3 only for Kuznetsova to break her opponent again and then serve out the set.

But there was to be no such comeback in the second as Kuznetsova again powered out to 3-1 and with the score poised at 5-2, Dementieva, ranked third in the world, was serving to stay in the match.

It summed up her luck that at 30-15 down on service in the final game, she hit the ball into the net to give Kuznetsova a match point when she only needed to tap the ball over with virtually the whole court at her mercy.

Kuznetsova took her first chance to win the match and Dementieva was left to rue several missed opportunities.

"I was too passive, I didn't attack enough or put her (Kuznetsova) under any real pressure," said Dementieva.

"She is a very good player on clay and if you don't put her under any pressure there is no way you can expect to beat her.

"I am not playing as well as I would like to at the moment and I need to go away and practise a lot."