Radwanska tops Hantuchova to reach Carlsbad finals

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CARLSBAD, CALIF. (AP) - No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland reached her first final in 10 months with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova at the Mercury Insurance Open on Saturday night.

Radwanska, ranked 10th in the world, used Hantuchova’s double fault in the seventh game for the only break of the first set. She then used her counterpunching game to capture the second set, which included a 20-minute seventh game in which Hantuchova saved seven match points.

This is Radwanska’s first trip to a final since October when she lost at Beijing to Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova, who will again be her opponent on Sunday.

The unseeded Kuznetsova advanced to the championship match with a a 6-4, 6-0 win over No. 5 seed Flavia Pennetta.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) _ Svetlana Kuznetsova beat fifth-seeded Flavia Pennetta 6-4, 6-0 Saturday to advance to the finals of the Mercury Insurance Open.

The unseeded Russian used her powerful forehand and took advantage of Pennetta’s weak serve to win nine of the final 10 games.

“I’m a little more comfortable to play her because she doesn’t overpower me,” Kuznetsova said after improving to 4-0 in her career against Pennetta.

Kuznetsova will be matched against the winner of the other semifinal between No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland and unseeded Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia.

The win moved Kuznetsova into her first final since she won at Beijing in October. “It’s good that I make it to a final, but it’s not enough,” Kuznetsova said. “Even winning a trophy is not enough but it’s one step forward.”

Kuznetsova continues her fight to regain her standing on the Tour. After winning three times in 2009 to run her career total to 12, the two-time Grand Slam champion has had a rough 10 months.

In 2010, Kuznetsova had reached only one quarterfinal before this tournament. Three weeks ago, her ranking slipped to No. 21, the first time she was out of the Top 20 since February 2004.

“I lost my game,” she said. “It took some time to sort things out. I want to be back and be strong. I don’t want to be back and be No. 12 or 15, that’s not my goal. I want to be higher and I believe I can do it.”

The victory over Pennetta is expected to move Kuznetsova back into the Top 20. A win in the finals is projected to get her ranking to No. 17.

With the pair on serve in the closely contested first set, Kuznetsova and Pennetta traded service breaks in the eighth and ninth games that gave Kuznetsova a 5-4 lead.

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