NEW YORK - Russian sixth seed Dinara Safina overpowered Italian Flavia Pennetta 6-2 6-3 on Wednesday to reach the semi-finals of the U.S. Open for the first time.
The 22-year-old, runner-up at the French Open and the Beijing Olympics, raced through the first set and then came from a break down in the second to clinch her place in the last four.
"It's great," Safina said in a courtside interview. "I'm getting closer to reaching the same thing as my brother (Marat Safin, the 2000 champion), so I hope that one day we can have the same titles."
Pennetta, seeded 16th, had beaten former world number one Amelie Mauresmo to reach her first grand slam quarter-final but she looked nervous early on.
Safina's greater power constantly had Pennetta on the back foot and the Russian broke twice to take the first set.
When Pennetta broke in the third game of the second set to lead 2-1, it looked as if she might make Safina work a bit harder but the sixth seed then stepped up a gear to win five of the next six games.
Safina, who has reached the final in six of her past seven tournaments, next meets the winner of the clash between Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, seeded seventh, and her sister Serena, the fourth seed.
"I don't care (who I play)," said Safina, who struck 25 winners. "They are both sisters, so whoever comes through I will play."
Pennetta said she had simply been outplayed by her Russian opponent.
"I don't think I played badly," she added. "I didn't make many errors (eight). I just couldn't get into the court because she kept hitting so hard.
"I wasn't very nervous, but she was playing unbelievable. She didn't give me (much of) a chance."
Having reached the last eight for the first time, though, Pennetta said she was developing a taste for the latter stages of grand slam events.
"I think it's a good result, but I would like to make more," she said.
"It's just one. I make already three or four fourth rounds. A quarter-final, it's unbelievable. But I hope next year to make more."