Wozniacki steps up a gear to see off Pennetta

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The Independent Online

Second seed Caroline Wozniacki overcame a slow start before powering past Flavia Pennetta to reach the quarter-finals of the Rogers Cup.

The Dane won 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 against Pennetta on Thursday and will next face another Italian, the French Open winner Francesca Schiavone, who enjoyed a 6-4, 6-3 victory over former world's No 1 Dinara Safina.

The major casualty of Thursday's play was the fourth-seeded Russian Elena Dementieva, who lost 7-6, 6-4 to China's Zheng Jie.

The weather turned cool for the evening session after a brief rain delay, but it did not stop Wozniacki from notching her fourth win in as many matches against Pennetta.

In the top half of the draw, Kim Clijsters breezed into the last eight with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Kaia Kanepi. Clijsters, who won the title in Cincinnati last week, was coming off a tougher second-round meeting with American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, which the Belgian won in three sets.

"I was playing an opponent who could not miss a shot, while today Kanepi was missing a lot, especially since her strengths are usually her serve and her backhand," Clijsters said. "I really felt that I had opportunities once I was in a rally, and she was either going to make a mistake or I could really try to make her move. Clijsters will face Vera Zvonareva in the last eight, after the eighth seed from Russia saw off Agnes Szavay of Hungary 6-3, 6-3.

Svetlana Kuznetsova had a 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 victory over Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska, turning around the match after getting thrashed in the second set. So what did she do during the break?

"I take a vodka shot, no?" Kuznetsova said with a laugh. "No, nothing like that. ... I just go to the locker room, change all my clothes, eat a banana and I go back. It's very simple. It was 6-1, but almost every game was deuce, so it was pretty hard. I took a break and it worked." The win put the 11th-seeded Kuznetsova into a quarter-final against Zheng yesterday.

In other matches, 10th-seeded Victoria Azarenka beat ninth-seeded Li Na of China 6-3, 6-3, and the 17th seed Marion Bartoli of France ousted the Czech qualifier Iveta Benesova 6-0, 6-1. Benesova was coming off a surprise win over top-seeded Jelena Jankovic. Azarenka and Bartoli were due to face off in the quarter-finals.

It has been a difficult year for Kuznetsova, who was the first Russian woman to win the US Open in 2004 and added a French Open title last year. Back at Roland Garros as defending champion in May, Kuznetsova was beaten in the third round and the massive loss of points dropped her to 19th in the world rankings. Then she went down in the second round at Wimbledon. When she crossed to North America for the hard-court season, things seemed to turn around. It was capped by a tournament win in San Diego two weeks ago, when she beat Radwanska in the final.

"I'm not used to having [played] so few matches," Kuznetsova said. "It's hard because the other players had so many matches from the start of the season." Her promising form may also bode well for the US Open, which begins on 30 August in New York. As well as her victory, she also reached the final in 2007.

Clijsters will start favourite against Zvonareva, although the Russian won their last meeting, in the Wimbledon quarter-finals this year. "We always had tough matches," Zvonareva said. "I never managed to beat her and finally, at Wimbledon, I was able to play consistently. I always believe I could beat anyone on the other side of the net. You have to come out there and not only know the game plan, but be able to execute it. It is very important to play your best to beat someone in the quarter-finals in such a big event."