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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tennis: Safina beats Wozniacki for Madrid title

AP Sports Writer

MADRID Top-ranked Dinara Safina won the Madrid Open on Sunday, beating Danish teenager Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-4 to earn her second straight title on clay heading into the French Open.

Safina overpowered the 18-year-old Dane with 24 winners and three break points at the "Magic Box" tennis center. The Russian's 11th career title follows her victory in Rome last week. She is 14-1 on clay this season

"Since I became No. 1 I'm playing better and better," the 23-year-old said.

Wozniacki faced a top-ranked player for the first time and will become the first Dane to crack the top-10 in next week's rankings after reaching her third final of the season.

Safina will go into Roland Garros buoyed by her recent success on clay after finishing runner-up at the Australian Open and Stuttgart earlier this year.

She got off to a quick start against Wozniacki, whom she was playing for the first time, scoring a break in the third game after both held serve to start. Another break proved enough for her to take the first set.

"I was feeling very comfortable from the start of the match and I was trying to be as aggressive as I could," said Safina, who was bothered by a slight knee problem. "But even in the key moments I was very strong."

Wozniacki, who hadn't dropped a set in reaching the final, hit a forehand long to be broken again at the start of the second and then could only watch as Safina slammed a two-handed backhand down the line to lead 2-0.

Wozniacki looked set to clinch her first break point in the fourth game, but couldn't return a lob after coming to the net and Safina went up 3-1.

In the eighth game, Wozniacki set up three of her five break chances with some delicate drop shots, but her good work was undone by several of her 22 unforced errors.

Top-ranked Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer meet for the 16th time in the men's final later Sunday, which is also their first meeting since Nadal's Australian Open victory over the Swiss player.

Nadal has won five straight finals over Federer, including at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and Melbourne, where the second-ranked Swiss player was reduced to tears.

Nadal won in the Spanish capital in 2005 and Federer a year later when the tournament was played indoors on hard courts.

Nadal saved three match points to rally past Novak Djokovic in a Masters Series record 4 hour-plus semifinal on Saturday. The four-time defending French Open champion who is 25-1 in clay court finals.