Dinara Safina shattered Jelena Jankovic's chances of securing the women's number one ranking on Saturday with a 7-6, 6-1 victory in the semi-finals of the Los Angeles Classic on Saturday.
Safina will meet Italy's Flavia Pennetta, who overcame blisters, scorching heat and fervent hometown support to beat American Bethanie Mattek 3-6, 6-2, 7-5, in the final.
Jankovic needed to win the tournament to grab top ranking from fellow Serbian Ana Ivanovic, but after losing the first set in a tiebreak was blown off the court in the second.
The Serb, who entered the tournament with a torn meniscus in her left knee, was philosophical about missing her opportunity.
"Hopefully my time will come, it's not the end of the world, Jankovic said. "I had an injury and was supposed to be out quite a long time and at least I had an opportunity to compete here, even though I wasn't at my best."
Safina, who lost the French Open final to Ivanovic, overpowered Jankovic with a huge service game and more than matched her opponent's athletic scrambling around the court.
The Russian failed to serve out the first set at 5-4, but then capitalised on a series of Jankovic forehand errors in the tiebreak to take it 7-3.
Jankovic's form then completely deserted her in the second set and Safina ran out an easy winner.
"She played very well," said Jankovic. "I had some chances in the first set and then I played a bad tiebreaker. In the second set, I couldn't go anymore. My legs were shaking a little."
Safina, who has now reached the final in four of her past five tournaments, said her run of good form was due to the work she had been doing with new coach, Zelikko Krajan, and fitness trainer, Dejan Vojnovic.
"It's just clicked," said Safina. "I'm trusting and listening to them. I know it's the right way every time I step on court.
She will now meet the 10th-seeded Pennetta, who had to fight off three break points at 4-4 in the third set before she sealed victory after two hours 40 minutes on her third match point with a backhand crosscourt return of serve winner.
"It was not a great match and I didn't play my best, but it's important to win matches like these when you are not playing your best," Pennetta said.