Victory in L.A. Marches Safina Up the Rankings

LOS ANGELES -- Dinara Safina won her first title on U.S. soil with a clinical 6-4, 6-2 defeat of Flavia Pennetta in Sunday's Los Angeles Classic final.

The Russian completely dominated the Italian's serve, breaking her six successive times to claim her second title of the year.

"Today, I wanted so badly to win the final, and before match I told my coach, 'I'm nervous, I really want to get this final,'" fourth seed Safina told reporters.

Pennetta, who has equaled her career-high ranking of No. 16, traded early blows with Safina, but after she was broken to trail 5-3 she began to lose her way.

Safina, who upset world No. 2 Jelena Jankovic's bid to take over the top ranking in the semifinals, clinched the first set when she forced Pennetta into a forehand error.

Safina broke Pennetta, the 10th seed, four times in the second set with a series of scorching winners.

"My serve wasn't working because she was very consistent, and I was always nervous because I knew if I didn't make the first, with the second she was pushing the ball so hard," Pennetta said.

French Open finalist Safina rose to a career-high No. 8 in the world rankings released Monday.

n Rafael Nadal continued his drive towards Roger Federer's No. 1 ranking with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Nicolas Kiefer in the Toronto Masters final Sunday.

Nadal, playing his first event since an epic five-set victory over Federer in the Wimbledon final on July 6, claimed his seventh title in 2008 and his fifth final in a row since mid-May. He also became the third youngest player behind Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors to accumulate 30 titles.

Federer was upset by unseeded Frenchman Gilles Simon in his opening match in Wednesday's second round.