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Ivanovic clinches Indian Wells title

Last updated on: March 24, 2008 09:43 IST

Serb Ana Ivanovic clinched her first WTA title of the year by hammering Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 6-3 in the Pacific Life Open final on Sunday.

The 20-year-old top seed from Belgrade broke Kuznetsova, the second seed, three times in the second set to wrap up victory in one hour 21 minutes at Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

After dominating a first set of quality shot-making with sparkling forehands, Ivanovic held the edge in an error-prone second before sealing the title by hitting a service return winner.

It was the sixth WTA success of Ivanovic's career and Kuznetsova's third loss in a final this season.

"It's a great victory for me," a beaming Ivanovic told reporters, having squealed in delight after securing the first Masters Series title of the year and beating the Russian for a fifth time in six meetings.

"When I managed to break her at four-all in the first set, it gave me confidence and I went strong from that point on.

"I was most happy about my aggressiveness today," added the Serb, who hit 30 winners to Kuznetsova's 14.

"I was staying low and taking my opportunities, knowing that when she would hit the short ball I would try to attack and take away time from her.

"I'm really enjoying my time and I'm playing some good tennis. The hard work is paying off so I'm just happy to see that.

Kuznetsova, the 2004 U.S. Open champion, conceded she had been totally outplayed in losing her eighth WTA final in her last nine.

"It's always painful to lose, but I prefer to get to the final losing than to lose in second round," the Russian said. "I think she played incredibly well in the first set, every important ball she hit a winner on the line."


On a sun-drenched afternoon in the California desert, the opening set went with serve until the ninth game when a crunching forehand by Ivanovic forced an error off Kuznetsova's backhand for the Serb to lead 30-40.

Ivanovic, Australian Open runner-up in January, coolly clinched the break point with a whipping top-spin forehand winner to edge ahead 5-4.

The elegant Serb then served out to take the opening set in 40 minutes, clinching the final point when the Russian hit a forehand long.

Ivanovic took early control in the second set, breaking in the third game when Kuznetsova pushed a backhand wide to lead 2-1.

However, the Serb surprisingly failed to hold serve in the fourth, trailing 0-40 before being broken after a backhand flew wide.

Kuznetsova, increasingly vulnerable on her serve, was again broken in the seventh game when she netted a forehand before Ivanovic held to lead 5-3.

Serving to stay in the match, the 22-year-old Russian double-faulted to trail 0-30 before Ivanovic unleashed a crunching backhand winner for 0-40.

The Serb sealed the most prestigious victory of her career with a service return winner down the line.

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