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Team WTAworld, Administrator, aka Nibbler
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AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND (TICKER) -- It didn't have the glamour of beating Anna Kournikova, but Anna Smashnova will take it.

Smashnova routed fifth-seeded Tatiana Panova of Russia, 6-2, 6-2 on Saturday (Friday night in the United States) to win the $140,000 ASB Bank Classic.

On Friday, Smashnova eased past Kournikova, denying the Russian siren her first career title. This win did not have as much luster but nevertheless provided Smashnova with her third career title.

"It's a different feeling to winning my other titles, but it's good to win, whether it's your second, third or fourth," said Smashnova, who won in 74 minutes.

The 25-year-old native of Israel was playing in a final for the first time since winning at Knokke-Heist in July 2000.

"The match was live on TV in Israel, which I didn't know," Smashnova said. "I rang my father and boyfriend and they both already knew I won. So I didn't surprise anybody."

Panova had carried over momentum from 2001, when she compiled a 29-17 match record and six quarterfinal appearances over the final six months.

But she fell to 0-2 all time vs. Smashnova, also losing in straight sets in qualifying at Oklahoma City in 1997. This was Panova's second career final and first since November 2000, when she lost to Anne Kremer in Thailand.

"I was not physically tired today, but I was mentally tired," Panova said. "My concentration was not good. The mind is more important in tennis."

Kournikova is returning from a foot injury that sidelined her for most of the 2001 season and dropped her to 71st in the WTA rankings. She appeared to be on track for her first career win but stumbled after a three-set victory in the quarterfinals.
 
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