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Kuznetsova wins French Open

Showing uncharacteristic calm, Kuznetsova earned her second Grand Slam title by defeating Safina 6-4, 6-2. Jitters have often betrayed Kuznetsova down the stretch in big…

Showing uncharacteristic calm, Kuznetsova earned her second Grand Slam title by defeating Safina 6-4, 6-2. Jitters have often betrayed Kuznetsova down the stretch in big matches, but she swept the final four games with steady play.

Instead it was the top-ranked Safina who battled her emotions. She double-faulted seven times, struggled with her movement and appeared near tears late in the match.

“Today I think she was too tight,” Kuznetsova said. “She had so much pressure on her. But I could bring my better game today—that’s why I won.”

Four-time French Open champion Justine Henin and others have criticized Safina’s ranking because she has yet to win a major. She climbed to No. 1 in April and will remain there through at least late July, but she’s now 0-3 in Grand Slam finals.

The younger sister of two-time Grand Slam champion Marat Safin was runner-up at Roland Garros last year to Ana Ivanovic.

“Hopefully, one day I can win here,” Safina said during the trophy ceremony, her voice cracking. The loss ended her 16-match winning streak.

Kuznetsova beat 10-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in the quarterfinals, and against Safina she had the more varied game, mixing the angle and pace of her groundstrokes as she scooted across the clay. She hit an occasional drop shot and won all six points when she came to the net.

Cool, damp weather made for slower conditions that lessened the impact of Safina’s booming groundstrokes. And her serve was woeful: Safina lost more than half her service points and was broken five times.

She double-faulted for the last time on championship point, then slammed her racket to the court. Kuznetsova’s reaction to the victory was subdued. The two finalists, whose friendly rivalry dates back a decade, traded kisses on the cheek at the net. Kuznetsova then allowed herself a brief smile and acknowledged the cheering crowd by patting her chest.

No. 7-seeded Kuznetsova, the 2004 U.S. Open champion, won $1.5 million while Safina received $750,000