MOSCOW: World No 1 Jelena Jankovic overpowered Vera Zvonareva 6-2, 6-4 in the Kremlin Cup final on Sunday to win her third title in a row.
Jankovic, making her debut in Moscow, broke the Russian twice to take the first set in just over half an hour.
The in-form Serbian, who also beat Zvonareva on her way to winning titles in Stuttgart and Beijing in the past two weeks, led 4-2 in the second but allowed the seventh seed to break back to level at 4-4.
Jelena Jankovic of Serbia reacts during an award ceremony for the final match at the WTA Kremlin Cup women's tennis tournament in Moscow on Sunday. Jankovic beat Vera Zvonareva 6-2, 6-4.
The top seed, however, earned another break in the ninth game before going on to clinch victory after 81 minutes when Zvonareva overhit her forehand on matchpoint.
"I've played her twice in the last two weeks so I really knew what to expect and was focused right from the start," said Jankovic, who pocketed $196,900 for her efforts.
"I dominated in the first set but in the second my concentration slipped a little bit but I was able to get myself together in the end."
The 23-year-old has been playing almost non-stop in the last couple of months and must keep going for another week before taking a well-deserved rest.
"I've worked really hard in the last three weeks, winning three titles in a row. It's not easy," she told reporters.
"But I still have my commitments to play next week in Zurich. Then, I'll take a two-week rest before playing in Doha.
"I've had a tough season, overcoming a number of injuries but I'm quite close to finishing the year ranked No 1 and I'm really proud of it," she added.
Zvonareva, who reached her first Kremlin Cup final on her eighth appearance in Moscow, said she could do little to stop Jankovic.
"It seems she had an answer for everything I tried," the 24-year-old Muscovite told a news conference.
"In the first set, she didn't allow me to play my game and I was lost on the court. And after winning the first set she was relaxed and just went for her shots."
Unseeded Igor Kunitsyn stunned Russian compatriot, and former world No 1, Marat Safin to win the men's title of the Kremlin Cup on Sunday in a three-set marathon which gave the 71st-ranked player his first career title.
Safin, who was seeded seventh here, produced 21 aces but all in vain as Kunitsyn won 7-6 , 6-7 , 6-3 in two hours 49 minutes to deny his mercurial countryman a first title since winning the Australian Open in 2005.
"Everybody knows Marat is better than me but today I'm the winner," Kunitsyn said.
"It's terrific to win my first title in front of my home fans and I hope I would be able to defend it here next year."
Both Safin, who played his first final since losing the 2006 Kremlin Cup final to Nikolay Davydenko, and Kunitsyn, who was playing his first final, kept their serves throughout the first set.
Source: China Daily/Agencies