Tag Archive | "Kuznetsova"

Kuznetsova Romps Radwanska In Beijing

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Kuznetsova Romps Radwanska In Beijing


img_1153-version-2Commencing with the U.S. Open, a perpetual dark cloud has loomed over the WTA’s  top seeds; most have failed to reach the latter rounds of tournaments or win in finals.  Today at the China Open, a premier event, Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, world number 6, let the sun through by defeating Pole Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-4 in the finals. For Svetlana, it is her second China Open title and her third trophy this year.

With a backhand crosscourt winner, Kuznetsova fabricated double break point in the opening game.  Although Radwanska got to deuce, a netted forehand volley and backhand stroke ultimately handed the break to her rival.  Subsequently, Svetlana had a comfortable game to consolidate.  After Agnieszka scored with an ace for 1-2, on her next service trip, with a double fault and forehand down the line winner by Svetlana, the Pole faced double break point again.  This time, Kuznetsova sealed the deal with another crosscourt forehand winner for 4-1.  After Kuznetsova put her guard down the next game, Radwanska broke. But, the Russian aggressive play was rewarded shortly. With the Pole’s weak second serve too inviting to her adversary, Kuznetsova captured another break when Radwanska’s forehand sailed long.  Then, by converting a forehand up the line winner on her serve, Kuznetsova bedded the first set 6-2.

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The U.S. Open’s Wild First Week

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The U.S. Open’s Wild First Week


img_3407At the majors, the unpredictable can happen. The early rounds of the U.S. Open have proven not to be the exception providing lots of fireworks particularly on the women’s side.  Here’s a half time synopsis and a look at the week ahead .

If one thought her ousting of Jelena Jankovic at Wimbledon this year was a fluke, Melanie Oudin said think again. The17 year old American Fed Cup heroine bounced back after dropping the first set to defeat a trophy favorite world number 4 Elena Dementieva in the second round. On Saturday, Oudin duplicated that result by ousting 29th seed Maria Sharapova.  In the round of 16, Oudin will take on her fourth consecutive Russian Nadia Petrova.  Moreover, in the quarterfinals, Melanie may have a shot at claiming another Russian big scalp, Svetlana Kuznetsova. Speaking of Jankovic, the 2008 finalist was eliminated in the second round by Yaroslava Shvedova.  Another jaw dropper was the exit of  8th seed and  reigning Sony Open champion Victoria Azarenka sent packing in the third round by Francesca Schiavone.

Despite teetering on the brink of disaster, Dinara Safina had managed to record a W. However yesterday, Safina was ultimately pushed over the cliff in the third round by Czech teenage talent Petra Kvitova. The world number’s one performance has ignited the debate as to the relevance of the computer ranking system.  Since Justine Henin’s retirement, there’s been a conspicuous vacuum at the top of the ladies’ game.  Safina’s inability to embrace the big occasions while Serena Williams has flourished in that setting has fueled the discussion.  Unlike Safina, the defending champion has shown little compassion for her opponents in reaching the round of 16. In contrast, sister Venus’ performance has been a mixed bag with injury thrown in as a factor. Venus’ colossal test comes in the fourth round as she faces Kim Clijsters whose form appears unaffected by her sabbatical.  Unless Venus tidies up her game, the Belgian will foil her much anticipated semifinal with Serena. The free fall continues for 2008 French open winner and former world number one Ana Ivanovic as her stock took another hit with her first round departure. In all 21 of the 32 women seeds have failed to move pass the fourth round.

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2009 U.S. Open Draw Set

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2009 U.S. Open Draw Set


usopenlogoThe suspense is over.  With Rafael Nadal’s ranking now at number 3, the burning question was whether Roger Federer will have to face his nemesis prior to the finals.  The prospect of a Roger versus Rafa final remains alive with these two on opposite sides of the draw.  On the other hand, there will be no Williams sisters final.  Serena and Venus can only clash in the semifinals.

Federer will be aiming for a sixth consecutive U.S. Open trophy and his recent win in Cincy demonstrates that the world number one has a good shot. Still, 2003 U.S. Open champ Andy Roddick who gave Federer an unforgettable battle at Wimbledon and Novak Djokovic, 2007 U.S. Open finalist, might be formidable semifinal opponents. Nadal may find himself in a dog fight right out of the blocks with Richard Gasquet as a first round adversary. With Rafa still not in full shape with his knees, another possible obstacle will be Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals.  Last year’s finalist, Andy Murray could meet Nadal in the semifinals.  The Brit is hungry and healthy, a combination that may stand in the way of Nadal reaching his first U.S. Open final. In the quarterfinals, Murray might see Juan Martin Del Potro.  Although the Brit has had Del Potro’s number, the Argentine may pull an ace off his sleeve.  Should conditioning not become a factor, Del Potro has the tools to get to his first major final.

Top seed Dinara Safina has a tough path to the quarterfinals with Alisa Kleybanova, Lucie Safarova possible rivals in the early rounds.  Jelena Jankovic, Safina’s potential quarterfinal counterpart, may have Sabine Lisicki or Ana Ivanovic to contend with.  Elena Dementieva and Svetlana Kuznetsova could be semifinals match ups for either woman.  Dementieva has looked great in the lead up tournaments and is well positioned to carry her first major. Although reigning French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova has been dealing with injury, she is a threat to take her second U.S. Open.

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2009 Wimbledon Draw Is Out: Regrettably So Is Nadal

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2009 Wimbledon Draw Is Out: Regrettably So Is Nadal


img_9986-version-3Hours after the Wimbledon committee revealed the singles’ draws, turmoil ripped through the men and women side demonstrating that no player is a shoe in for the championship.

After losing his second exhibition match, Rafael Nadal, the top seed and reigning champion, withdrew due to knee tendonitis. That afternoon, female number one and top seed, Dinara Safina’s recovery after her meltdown in Paris was dealt a major setback. Safina was ousted in the semifinals by Tamarine Tanasugarn ranked 47th in a grass court warm-up tournament. Last year, Tanasurgan defeated Safina in the finals at this event.

Now, fifth ranked Juan Martin Del Potro replaced Nadal at the top half of the draw. Although Del Potro has been improving rapidly, more seasoned grass players such as Radek Stepanek, Lleyton Hewitt or first round opponent Arnaud Clement could be an obstruction. In addition, Del Potro could face Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals. The extent of Roddick’s ankle injury will determine how much of a factor he will be. With a manageable draw, the prospect of Andy Murray becoming the first Brit since 1936 to raise the Wimbledon trophy looks promising. But, Murray may see Roddick or Del Potro in the semifinals. Despite Roger Federer’s multiple championships at the All England Club, with such a competitive field, other than experience, Federer has no distinct advantage. In the bottom section, Federer may need to go through the same stubborn rivals he battled in Paris to get to the quarterfinals. There, Federer could square off against Fernando Verdasco or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, both hungry competitors. Similarly to Murray, Novak Djokovic, Federer’s potential match-up in the semifinals, appears to have an easy path on paper. Yet, Tommy Haas who beat Djokovic in the finals at Halle could represent a roadblock.

Safina’s chance at redemption against Svetlana Kuznetsova may take place in the quarterfinals. Although with defending champion Venus Williams and Jelena Jankovic as possible semifinals opponents, Safina could be in the midst of a perpetuating nightmare. Venus’ performance the first couple of matches will determine whether she can prevail for a sixth time at Wimbledon. Serena Williams’ chance to avenge her Sony Ericsson lost to Victoria Azarenka could come in the quarters. However, Azarenka may need to knock off former Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova in the round of 16 before getting to Serena. With Vera Zvonareva slowly getting back from injury and Elena Dementieva’s dismal play the last few months, for players such as Dominika Cibulkova, Aleksandra Wozniak or Alize Cornet, the door is wide open to reach at least the quarters.

The Williams sisters will do double duty at a major again. Defending champion and seeded fourth, Venus and Serena will attempt to win their fourth Wimbledon doubles title. 2008 men’s doubles champion Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic, the second seed, will attempt to repeat and wrestle the number one spot away from Mike and Bob Bryan.

Ambiguity reigns at Wimbledon this year. On both the female and male side, it is truly anybody’s trophy. First serve comes this Monday.

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Kuznetsova Celebrates Second Career Major in Paris

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Kuznetsova Celebrates Second Career Major in Paris


img_1153-version-2Appropriately, the two women who have excelled on clay this year, world number one Dinara Safina and world number seven Svetlana Kuznetsova battled in the last round of the French Open. In this third all-Russian major final of the Open era, Kuznetsova pounded Safina 6-4, 6-2 to get her first ‘Coupe Suzanne Lenglen’.

With a dropshot on the very first point which Safina easily put away for a forehand winner, Kuznetsova revealed that she was nervous. Consequently, Safina took advantage and broke immediately. However, with three forehand errors and a double fault from Safina, Kuznetsova was on the board. Now more relaxed, Kuznetsova closed out a love game with a forehand crosscourt winner for 2-1. After Safina held with difficulty, Kuznetsova lost her way in a 40-15 game. With a backhand service return winner, Safina had break point. Boldly, with a serve and volley winner, Kuznetsova brushed aside the deficit and went on to secure the game. Serving at 3-4, Safina faced a 0-30 disadvantage for the second straight game. With a penetrating backhand return, Kuznetsova got to triple break point. Then, when a backhand crosscourt skidded off the line for a winner, Svetlana took a 5-3 lead. But, with four successive errors by her rival, Dinara broke back. Yet, Svetlana stayed calm. With two forehand winners and a spectacular backhand volley, Kuznetsova arrived at double set point. She converted when a heat packed backhand down the line forced Dinara’s forehand to find the bottom of the net.

In the initial stages of the second set, both women held serve although errors dominated. After Kuznetsova netted a backhand and forehand stroke for 0-30, she induced three forehand errors from Dinara for game point. Later, Kuznetsova secured the game for 3-2. With Safina’s inconsistency on first serve, this proved the turning point in the match. As a result of a double fault, a backhand crosscourt long and a forehand error, Safina stared at double break point. When Dinara overhit a forehand up the line, Svetlana obtained a 4-2 edge. Despite both players’ reputation for mental fragility, Safina had improved significantly in that area in the past year. Yet, after losing serve, Safina turned to her coach asking: “why am I such a chicken?” After consolidating the break, Kuznetsova’s prayer of not having to serve out the match was answered. With a couple of huge forehands, Kuznetsova got to 30 all. Then, when Safina made another backhand mistake, Svetlava had match point. Safina capped a horrible afternoon with a double fault to give Kuznetsova her first French Open title.

Reflecting on what transpired after the match, Safina essentially admitted that the number one ranking weighed her down because she “ put pressure on [herself] and [she] just wanted to win”. Moreover, she failed to ‘stay mentally tough’ and at times felt ‘desperate on court’. On the other hand, Kuznetsova cited “ I just wanted to do my best… I don’t push pressure on myself . . . if it works out great”. Maybe the major lessons that Kuznetsova deducted from blowing two set leads in the quarters versus Serena Williams and in the semis against Samantha Stosur were the importance of fighting on and knowing when to control one’s emotion. Five years after winning the U.S Open and coming up short on two other occasions, Kuznetsova is a deserving champion.

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A Resume of Week One At Roland Garros

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A Resume of Week One At Roland Garros


img_9890-version-2The initial week of the French Open has been filled with thrilling victories as well as agonizing losses. Here is a targeted recap of what’s gone on so far and a preview of week two.

The women and men’s number one seed breezed through their matches. Surrendering only four games in three matches, Dinara Safina faces Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai in the round of 16. Despite a partisan crowd, Safina should have no problems. After a slow start in her opening match, defending champion Ana Ivanovic, also in Safina’s section of the draw, has gotten better with each round. Reigning Sony Ericsson Open champion, Victoria Azarenka is up next for Ivanovic. Undoubtedly, this will be Ana’s biggest challenge to date. Rafael Nadal continues to make mince meat of his opponents. Lleyton Hewitt, a former world number one, won only five games in their third round meeting. Nadal takes on Swede Robin Soderling in the round of 16. Although Soderling beat clay court expert David Ferrer in the prior round, it’s hard to contemplate his having any success against Nadal. Another Spaniard making waves in France is Fernando Verdasco. Verdasco has prevailed in three in all his matches and will play Russian Nikolay Davydenko. The victor of that match will have the unenviable task of trying to go through Nadal to get to the semifinals.

Roger Federer and Serena Williams, the number two seed, have had a tougher time, yet advanced to week two. Federer’s next obstacle will be German Tommy Haas and Serena’s Canadian Alesksandra Wozniak. Andy Roddick, the only American male standing, has made it past the third round for the first time. Roddick has dismissed his rivals in impressive fashion. However, Frenchman Gael Monfils, a semifinalist last year, will be Roddick’s upcoming puzzle. Should Roddick jump through that hurdle, he could meet Federer in the quarterfinals. Brit Andy Murray is another one who hasn’t sailed through. Although Croatian Marin Cilic may be a test for the Brit, with Gilles Simon out, Murray’s place in the semifinals is almost a certainty where he is likely to battle Nadal.

Saturday saw the departure of the number four seeds as Novak Djokovic fell to German Philip Kohlschreiber while Australian Samantha Stosur stopped Elena Dementieva. Along with Kohlschreiber, Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro make their debut into the round of 16. The latter two will play each other for a quarterfinal spot. With Djokovic out, for these three men as well as Spaniard Tommy Roberdo, it’s a great opportunity to reach the semifinal where Roddick or Federer may be waiting.

Jelena Jankovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova have quietly taken care of business. Kuznetsova’s next match will be tougher as she squares off against crafty Polish youngster Agnieszka Radwanska. Jankovic should have an easy pass with Romanian Sorana Cristea. Jankovic is in the golden position of avoiding a top ten seed until the semifinal where she could collide with either Serena or Svetlana. Another lucky one is former world number one now ranked 102, Maria Sharapova. Despite fumbling through, Sharapova is in the round of 16 where she will take on Na Li. Hungarian Agnes Szavay foiled Sharapova’s possible quarterfinal encounter with Venus Williams. Szavay thrashed Venus in the third round. In only her second tournament back from shoulder surgery, Sharapova has a real chance of getting to the semifinals.

Seeded fifth, Venus and Serena are alive in doubles and could impact with the number one seed Liezel Huber and Cara Black in the quarters. The top five women and men’s doubles teams are still in the mix. But, in mixed doubles, the number two seed, Cara Black and Leander Paes, was defeated in the second round.

Having set a new record for most consecutive wins at the French, can Nadal stay undefeated and seal the deal with a fifth consecutive trophy? Or will Federer finally obtain the only major that has eluded him? Will Murray, Jankovic or Safina join the elite club of major winners? Can Tsonga or Monfils make France’s dream a reality by celebrating their first major in their home country? Will Serena claim her second French title? The reply to these burning questions will come shortly.

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2009 French Open Draw Released

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2009 French Open Draw Released


french_open_logoThis Monday, the most talented men and women in tennis will initiate the process of deciding who will walk away with the year’s second major. While Rafael Nadal is unequivocally the favorite on the men’s side, the women’s potential champion is much harder to predict.

Although Nadal going down to Roger Federer in Madrid added spice to the contest, the Spaniard remains the one with the target on his back. Fellow countrymen David Ferrer and Fernando Verdasco, possible fourth round and quarterfinal opponents respectively, could provide further intrigue to the plot. But, Nadal has had no trouble dealing with either man during his spectacular clay court run. The most anticipated semifinal match up could be Nadal versus Brit Andy Murray. Murray showed moments of brilliance in their semifinal meeting in Monte Carlo which he lost. Murray may need to go through Spaniard Albert Montanes, Chilean Fernando Gonzalez, pesky Czech Radek Stepanek or Marat Safin, a semifinalist in 2008. So Murray’s will have a mount to climb before getting to Nadal.

On paper, Federer should reach the quarterfinals without difficulties. However, lurking in Roger’s section are James Blake, Tomas Berdych and a couple Spaniards, any of them could serve as spoilers. In the quarters, Federer could face Andy Roddick. Yet, Roddick could have a rough time getting past his rivals since clay is not his best surface. Serb Novak Djokovic and Federer could meet in the semifinals. Having come back from a set and a break down to prevail their last two encounters, Novak will have confidence squarely in his corner. However, standing in Djokovic’s way in the preliminary rounds may be former French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero, top ten players Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro and Frenchman Jo-Wilfred Tsonga.

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Safina Overwhelms Wozniacki For Second Straight Clay Court Title

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Safina Overwhelms Wozniacki For Second Straight Clay Court Title


dsc_5877Madrid was the scene for the WTA’s last premier clay court tournament where world number one, Russian Dinara Safina, battled ninth seed, Dane Caroline Wozniacki. Safina destroyed Wozniacki 6-2, 6-4 in the finals of the Mutua Madrilena Open for her eleventh career trophy.

After both players saved break points in their opening service games, with two unforced errors by Wozniacki, Safina had double break point. Dinara converted with a forehand crosscourt winner and took a 2-1 lead. By gorging on backhand down the line winners, Dinara was able to consolidate. Afterwards, Safina broke again for a 4-1 advantage. As Wozniacki’s error tally mounted, Safina cemented the first set at 6-2.

In the second set, with a forehand up the line mistake by Wozniacki, Safina arrived at break point. The Russian captured the lead with another forehand error by the Dane. Then, with a backhand down the line winner, Safina pulled in front 2-0. Serving at 2-1, Safina made an unforced error causing her to face break point. But, Dinara chased down a volley by Caroline to produce a winner for deuce. Subsequently, with a few more faults from Wozniacki, Safina held for 3-1. Henceforth, neither competitor had a miscue on serve until the eighth game. Leading 40-0, Safina committed three straight errors and with a well-concealed forehand dropshot winner, Wozniacki had break point. However, a backhand crosscourt grazing the tape denied Caroline the opportunity to equalize the set. The tenacious Dane got another break point with a superb backhand volley winner. Still, Safina turned Wozniacki away with a winner. After Caroline failed to capitalize on a third break chance, Dinara secured this seven-deuce game and a 5-3 lead. After being unsuccessful on a match on her opponent’s serve, Safina benefited from a multitude of errors by Wozniacki to secure the championship.

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Safina Pays Kuznetsova Back In Rome Final

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Safina Pays Kuznetsova Back In Rome Final


img_1119For the second successive week, Russians Dinara Safina and Svetlana Kuznetsova meet in the finals of a premier clay court tournament. At the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, Safina, world number one, got the better of her compatriot 6-3, 6-2 to capture her first title of 2009.

Ahead 40-15 after Safina comfortably held serve, Kuznetsova double faulted and made a backhand down the line error for deuce. Then, with two more backhand errors, Safina had the break and a 2-0 lead. But, with a couple of forehands crosscourt long by Dinara, Svetlana obtained her first game. However, with another backhand down the line error by Kuznetsova, Safina was back on top 3-1. Multiple misses by Kuznetsova permitted Safina to consolidate for 4-1. After easily guarding serve for 2-4, Kuznetsova had triple break points after pressuring errors from Safina. Svetlana converted with a forehand crosscourt winner for 3-4. Following, an ill-advised dropshot on a deep service return, Kuznetsova faced break point. After Safina let her off the hook with a backhand error, Kuznetsova made a bunch of forehand errors to give Safina the break and a 5-3 advantage. Safina pulled the curtain on the first set with forehand volley winner.

What a difference a few days make! Unlike the finals in Stuttgart, Safina could do no wrong, connecting on over 80% of her first serves, while Kuznetsova suffered from unforced error syndrome. Serving at 1 all, despite having three game points, Kuznetsova pulled the trigger too early as a consequence of Safina’s heavy shots and was broken. After Safina held serve for 3-1, Kuznetsova committed four straight errors allowing Safina to widen her margin by a double break. Then, at 1-5, after leading 40-15, Kuznetsova’s errors resulted in Safina getting to deuce. Subsequently, with a backhand up the line winner, Safina attained match point. With a courageous winner off a dropshot by Dinara, Svetlana was at deuce and later held serve for 2-5. With Safina serving for the championship, Kuznetsova had double break point. But, Kuznetsova, unable to rein in the errors, let one more opportunity get away. With another errant forehand by Kuznetsova, Safina sealed the championship putting an end to her rival’s nine match winning streak.

This was an amazing performance by the world number one coming on the heels of a semifinal win over Venus Williams in a three set thriller that took over three hours in which Safina was down a set and a break. With Venus’ great run in Rome, she will ascend to number three, her highest ranking since 2003. Serena Williams, world number two, lost in the second round to Swiss Patty Schynder. With the goal of rewarding good play, for the first time, only the semifinalists in Rome will have a first round bye in Madrid this upcoming week. Victoria Azarenka will be one of the lucky four after falling to Kuznetsova.

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Kuznetsova Cuts Off Safina For First Trophy In Two Years

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Kuznetsova Cuts Off Safina For First Trophy In Two Years


img_1153-version-2In the finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, a clay court premier tournament, Svetlana Kuznetsova vanquished fellow Russian and world number one, Dinara Safina, 6-4, 6-3 to claim her tenth career title.

After each player readily held serve, Kuznetsova faced two break points but dismissed them with forehand up the line winners for 2-1. Serving at 2-3, Safina had a backhand go long after a rocket forehand return by Kuznetsova giving the latter a 15-30 edge. Nevertheless, with a backhand volley winner and an ace, Dinara preserved the game. Then, after Svetlana had no trouble with her service game, Dinara double faulted and made an unforced error giving her rival break point. In spite of that, Safina wiggled out of that predicament with another ace and unforced errors by Kuznetsova to square the set at 4. After securing a 5-4 advantage with a forehand up the line winner, Kuznetsova overpowered Safina with forehand winners to get double break point. With Safina’s backhand finding the net, Kuznetsova rested the set.

The difference in the first set was Kuznetsova’s accuracy not only with her forehand, but her consistency from the backhand side. However with the score 1-1, Kuznetsova had a backhand travel long to hand Safina double break point. Still, with powerful forehand winners, Svetlana kept her slim edge for 2-1. Although theoretically Dinara was holding serve, in reality, she was relying too much on her second serve. That flaw came back to haunt her at 2-3 when Kuznetsova, with double break point, fired a backhand return deep which resulted in a weak reply by Safina. Subsequently, Kuznetsova put away an easy forehand volley for a 4-2 lead. After consolidating with a love service game, Kuznetsova had an initial match point because of a Safina double fault. Dinara managed a backhand return error for deuce. Afterwards, with a forehand crosscourt winner and backhand misfired by her rival, Dinara prolonged the match. Then, with a strong service game, Kuznetsova on her third championship point smashed an overhead for a winner to end the set.

Having lost eight straight finals and with Safina winning seven of their eleven meetings, including the last four, Kuznetsova didn’t seem to have a pray. So, this week, Kuznetsova got a big monkey off her back. In addition to Kuznetsova’s last title being in 2007, it had been a while since she prevailed over a top five opponent. In the semifinals, Kuznetsova banished world number three Elena Dementieva in straight sets. From number nine, Svetlana’s ranking will bump up to number eight. Importantly, Jelena Jankovic struggles persist. Italy’s Flavia Pennetta ousted the second seed and world number four in the quarterfinals. Also, Argentina’s Gisela Dulko stopped recent Sony Open champion Victoria Azarenka in the second round.

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