Kuznetsova cruises into last four

INDIAN WELLS, California Wed Mar 19, 2008 10:11pm GMT

Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova returns a volley at the net against Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska during their match at the Pacific Life Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, California, March 19, 2008. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova returns a volley at the net against Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska during their match at the Pacific Life Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, California, March 19, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Danny Moloshok

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INDIAN WELLS, California (Reuters) - Second-seeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova swept past Polish teenager Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2 6-4 to reach the semi-finals at the Pacific Life Open on Wednesday.

Kuznetsova, who was upset by Radwanska in the third round of the Australian Open in January, broke her 19-year-old opponent in the first and third games of the opening set on the Stadium Court.

After service breaks were traded early in the second set, the 22-year-old Russian, who lost to Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova in last year's final at Indian Wells, broke in the seventh game before serving out to seal the win in 10th.

"That was pretty good," Kuznetsova told reporters after reaching her third WTA semi-final of the year. "I played better in the first set and missed a few (opportunities) in the second but overall it was still pretty good.

"I'm confident playing out there and it was a good win for me after losing to her in the Australian Open."

Asked if she had carried any memories of her 6-3 6-4 defeat in Melbourne into Wednesday's match, she replied: "I think some signs of the Australian Open.

"I remember that I didn't do this well or that well and I still was close in the match. When I do everything right, this is the result which comes."

The Russian world number three, who clinched her first grand slam title at the 2004 U.S. Open, will meet either fifth-seeded Hantuchova or Australian Open champion Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals.

Hantuchova, twice a winner at Indian Wells, was scheduled to play Russian Sharapova, the 2006 champion, in an evening match on Wednesday.

The Slovakian will be hunting her 10th consecutive victory on the hardcourt surface at Indian Wells while Sharapova will be bidding to win her 18th successive match of the year.

"Either of those players will be extremely tough," Kuznetsova said. "Maria is more confident in my view at the moment and she is, I guess, the favourite tonight.

"But Daniela has always played well in this tournament. I have no preference over who I play."

(Editing by Justin Palmer)

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