Russian Dinara Safina crushed fellow countrywoman Svetlana Kuznetsova in the finals of the Toray Pan Pacific Open, a tier I tournament, to claim her fourth title this season 6-1, 6-4.
After going down love-30 in her opening service game, Safina recovered with a couple of crosscourt winners to hold serve. Because of an unforced error by Kuznetsova, Safina arrived at her first break point chance which she converted 3-1. Then, with another forehand crosscourt winner and another unforced error from her opponent, Safina took a double break lead in the first set 5-1. Subsequently, Safina served an ace to acquire the first set.
Instead of relying on the strength of her all around game, particularly her superior net play, Kuznetsova attempted to overpower her opponent from the baseline which resulted in multiple errors flying from both her forehand and backhand sides. After commencing the second set with a 40-0 game, Kuznetsova made a series of unforced errors to give Safina an advantage point then double faulted to go down a break. Down 0-2, Kuznetsova produced a great drop shot and down the line backhand winner to keep within striking distance at 1-2. The pay off came the very next game when Safina’s serve deserted her and with a double fault, the second set was tied at 2-2. But, Safina bounced right back with a handful of down the line and crosscourt forehand winners to regain the lead. Then, with a couple of aces, Safina consolidated the break 4-2. In the eight game, Kuznetsova tried to answer and got to break point with a forehand volley for a winner. Yet again, with an unforced error Svetlana threw away her chance, so now Dinara led 5-3. After getting ahead 40-15 in the critical ninth game, Kuznetsova was again bitten by the error bug. An ill advised drop shot by Svetlana while down match point sailed long giving Dinara her third tier I title of the year.
Currently, Safina and Serena Williams are the leading titleholders on the WTA tour for 2008 with four each. Safina’s climb up the rankings continues. On Monday, she will be ranked at number 3, the highest spot of her career.