Monday, 21 January 2013

Sveta turns back the clock

Two time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova from Russia entered Melbourne Park unseeded due to a knee operation in the last half of 2012 seeing her ranking plunge. She has used the Australian summer, in particular the year's first Grand Slam tournament to relaunch her assault on the top order of women's tennis.

A bit of good fortune with Sara Errani being removed from her section of the draw in the first round, plus some good performances of her own making, saw her rattle into today's fourth round encounter with 10th seed Caroline Wozniacki who hasn't exactly found it smooth sailing all the way, Sabine Lisicki the biggest headache removed.

The first set certainly took a course far different than most pundits had suggested. Sveta played beautifully, intimidating Wozniacki's serve with excellent returns, often for outright winners, ground strokes as pure as she has played for many a day and volleys straight from her doubles schooling. Caroline had little answer, and while doing nothing remarkably wrong, could not remove herself from the defensive mode long enough to attack Kuznetsova in any effective manner.

The dropped serves in the third and seventh games arrived without shock considering the standard of tennis from Sveta, and the 6-2 scoreline a true reflection of the contest to that point.

Set 2 turned the fortunes around in a hurry, and Caroline Wozniacki has the ability to change the course of a match that way so it was half expected to see her error count reduced and her court coverage managed better in order to mitigate the value of the Kuznetsova shots earlier landing as clean winners. The Russian was broken in the second and sixth games for Caroline's benefit, and she rejoiced to the tune of a 5-1 lead.

While out celebrating she lost track of time and when she had returned the seventh game was underway. Under prepared she middle through as best she could but Sveta stung her on the backhand which was still getting out of the cab and unable to do anything to prevent the break. The reprieve became temporary once Caroline put the finishing touches to a most acceptable eighth game for which Kuznetsova was not able to cope and she dropped another serve to now be level on sets won 6-2 2-6.

The final set was effectively a sprint to the line. The two went at it with attack in mind, and the results were excellent. Sveta hit winners from everywhere to all parts and Caroline played her fair share as well. The mistakes were mostly forced, and the break points accrued from the good tennis, not from poor work by the server.
In any case, only once each did the serves become broken on the track to a 5-5 scoreline.

Caroline blinked first, and as she did Kuznetsova had created three break points, two of which the Danish player saved. The final one could not be averted; instead it was converted when a punishing shot from Sveta forced the errant reply from a disappointed Wozniacki.

Svetlana Kuznetsova, unseeded quarter finalist 6-2 2-6 7-5

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