* Safina thumps Italy's Pennetta 6-2 6-0
* Will meet Jankovich in final
(updates after Jankovic win)
By Simon Cambers
CINCINNATI, Aug 15 World number one Dinara
Safina will take on a rejuvenated Jelena Jankovic in the final
of the Cincinnati Open after hugely contrasting wins on
Russian Safina stormed into her eighth final of the year
with a 6-2 6-0 demolition of Italian Flavia Pennetta, while
fifth seed Jankovic saved four match points to beat fourth seed
Elena Dementieva 7-6 0-6 7-6 after two hours and 46 minutes.
Safina was at her powerful best as she ended Pennetta's
15-match winning streak in just 55 minutes.
"Every match I have been feeling better," Safina told
reporters. "Today, stepping on the court, I was feeling very
good and confident."
Pennetta looked a little jaded and Safina was relentless as
she broke in the second game and never looked back, reeling off
seven in a row to clinch a comprehensive victory.
"I knew I had to be strong at the beginning," said Safina.
"When somebody starts to put you under pressure from the first
game, it's tough mentally to face it.
"That was the key. I wanted to put the pressure on straight
away and to dominate, not let her get into the match."
Pennetta offered no excuses for her defeat.
"Today she was playing much better than me," the 14th seed
said. "I was a little bit tired, of course, but I didn't lose
because of that.
"In front of me was the number one in the world and she was
The real drama, though, occurred under lights as Jankovic
and Dementieva fought out a tension-filled semi-final in which
both players had match points.
Despite some poor serving -- Dementieva had 17 double
faults and Jankovic eight -- the pair produced some of the best
tennis of the week, with numerous lung-busting baseline rallies
that had the crowd enthralled.
Jankovic snatched the first set on a tiebreak after just
one break of serve apiece before Dementieva played a
near-flawless second set to level the match.
The third set was an epic in itself as Jankovic held three
match points at 5-4, only for the Russian to break back.
The next two games were also breaks before Dementieva
forced four match points of her own as she charged ahead 6-2 in
But Jankovic would not give in and after fighting back to
6-6, Dementieva's 17th double fault gave Jankovic her fourth
match point and the Russian netted a forehand to hand her the
"I think you saw my reaction -- I was like 'Oh my God, I
can't believe I won'," Jankovic said.
"I had three match points and got upset when I didn't win
it and then she had I don't know how many match points. I can't
believe I won."
The win put Jankovic through to only her second final of
the year and the former world number one said she had almost
forgotten what it was like.
"It feels unbelievable," she said. "It's been a long time
since I was in a final like this. Hopefully I can play well
against Dinara, it's going to be tough."
(Editing by Ian Ransom; To query or comment on this story