One of the most fascinating characters about Svetlana Kuznetsova, is her ability of merging the Russian classic game with the Spanish ruggedness in playing, creating a not easy way for defying her kind of game given that the tennis played by the 29-year-old girl from Saint Petersburg looks like a “maelstrom” full of magic both for the stylistic beauty and the technical completeness mixed with her mystical nature. Her style is enriched but also scraped by her personality and her eclecticism that give to her tennis a succession of wins and losses; thanks to this mystical nature, Svetlana Kuznetsova is an unconventional player with divine but also human features.
It’s not possible to size up, sum up and define clearly Svetlana Kuznetsova. There are a lot of hues probably connected with the not easy way to separate “Kuznetsova as a player” and “Kuznetsova as a human being“, that don’t allow anyone to give a precise opinion that in the most of the time looks like a hurried judgement, a commonplace. During the years lots of stereotypes came in succession. The press considered her a not appropriate surprise to win US Open at the age of 19 and started to expect that Svetlana Kuznetsova could always win and considering each loss like a false step, a treason towards her own talent and her huge potentialities. These hurried judgments maybe gave to the russian player a shake to her mood making her more cautious and keeping her back from the environment of tennis (not as the game itself), giving her the chance to know herself better.
One of the biggest commonplace about Svetlana Kuznetsova is considering her just a clay player. This certainty gets weaken when we see that among the 14 WTA titles won in her career, only 2 were won on clay, 11 on hard surface and 1 on grass. Looking at the 21 times where she was runner-up just 2 were on clay and 12 on hard surface. The game of the Russian player is undeniably perfect for clay: top spin but also power in her shots that allow her to change a match from defensive one to offensive one, the perfect serve, the strong physique and an always present stamina make Svetlana Kuznetsova a complete player in every part of the court.
In 2002 Svetlana Kuznetsova played for the first time at Roland Garros. She was not yet 17 and she just played tournaments on clay in Budapest and Warsaw reaching the 4th round; in Paris she was stopped by Lourdes Dominguez Lino at the 2nd round of qualifications.
Just three tournaments played on clay in 2003: Berlin (2nd round lost to Patty Schnyder), Rome (3rd round with Anastasia Myskina) and Paris (1st round lost to Meghann Shaughnessy). Better results came in Wimbledon where she reached the quarter finals and in New York where she got the 3rd round.
In 2004 Svetlana Kuznetsova arrived to Roland Garros after reaching the final in Warsaw and the 3rd round both in Berlin and Rome. In Paris she was stopped at the 4th round by Myskina who won the tournament in the same year and the score was 1-6 6-4 8-6. During this match Svetlana Kuznetsova had a match point. In the same year, Svetlana confirmed not to be a only clay player given that she won her first Slam title on the hard surface of Flushing Meadow and won also in Bali (hard) and Eastbourne (grass). She was runner up in Dubai, Doha and Beijing.
In 2005 playing on clay she reached the final in Warsaw, the quarter final in Berlin, the 2nd round in Rome and the 4th round in Paris losing to the future winner of tournament Justine Henin with the score 7-6(6) 4-6 7-5. On the hard surface in Melbourne and on the grass of Wimbledon, she reached in both cases the quarter-final.
Svetlana Kuznetsova gave her best on clay in 2006 reaching the final in Roland Garros losing to Justine Henin, the final in Warsaw losing to Kim Clijsters and the semifinals in Amelia Island and Rome where she lost to Schiavone and Safina. Otherwise, Svetlana Kuznetsova won on the hard surface of Miami, Beijing and Bali, reached the semifinal in Stuttgart, Zurich, Sydney, New Haven, Dubai and Eastbourne.
Another golden season was the one in 2007. Svetlana played the semifinal on the clay of Warsaw, the final in Berlin (lost to Ana Ivanovic) and Rome (lost to Jelena Jankovic) and the quarterfinal in Paris. The rest of the season was played in New York, Indian Wells and Doha where Svetlana Kuznetsova played the finals and Dubai, Stuttgart and Moscow where she played the semifinals. The quarter final reached in Wimbledon showed how Svetlana Kuznetsova was a very versatile player.
A ruinous clay season took place in 2008. Just a semifinal in Roland Garros and 3rd round in Berlin and Rome. Conversely, Svetlana Kuznetsova succeded on hard surface: she reached final in Sydney, Dubai, Indian Wells, Tokyo and Beijing. Not to be forgotten a breath-taking semifinal in Miami lost to Serena Williams.
A total change happened in 2009 where she easily defeated Andrea Petkovic, Li Na, Gisela Dulko, Elena Dementieva and Dinara Safina in Stuttgart. In Rome Svetlana Kuznetsova lost to Safina in the final but Svetlana had beated Hantuchova, Pennetta, Jankovic and Azarenka in the previous matches. The third final played against Safina took place in Paris. After defeating Claire Feuerstein, Galina Voskoboeva, Melinda Czinik, Agnieszka Radwanska, Serena Williams, Samantha Stosur and Dinara Safina in the final she won her second Slam title and she showed to be the queen of clay. The year closed with another trophy conquered on the hard surface of Beijing.
The 2010 has not been an easy year for Svetlana who just reached a 3rd round on the clay of Stuttgart, a 1st round in Rome, a 2nd round in Madrid and a 3rd round in Paris where she lost to Maria Kirilenko as happenend in Rome. Svetlana got the only trophy of this season on the hard surface of San Diego, but she also reached the semifinal in Montreal and the 4th round at the US Open: the hard surface has been more friendly than the clay.
The 2011 was almost a copy of the previous year. Except for the semifinal on the clay of Marbella, Svetlana wasn’t able to go further than the 1st round in Madrid and Rome. She reached the quarter final in Paris facing Marion Bartoli. It was a bad season also on hard surface except for the final in Dubai won by Caroline Wozniacki.
A knee injury badly influenced the 2012 that compromised the entire season. Just a 2nd round in Fes, 1st round in Madrid and Rome. Sara Errani stopped her on the clay of Roland Garros after playing a good match in the 3rd round against Agnieszka Radwanska. Her knee didn’t allow her to succeed anymore in the next months.
After a surgery, in 2013 Svetlana reached the quarter final both at the Australian Open and Roland Garros losing to Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams who lost her unique set of the tournament playing against Svetlana. In the other clay tournaments, Svetlana Kuznetsova lost to Oprandi in the quarter final of Oeiras and to Simona Halep in Rome. Better performance in Madrid where Svetlana Kuznetsova reached the 3rd round defeated by Angelique Kerber. On the hard surface Svetlana reached the semifinal in Moscow and the quarter final in Tokyo and Sydney.
The 2014 has been a sort of new Spring on clay for Svetlana. She just won two matches before playing in Stuttgart where she defated Simona Halep and reached the quarter final. In Oeiras she almost got the title playing against Suarez Navarro. In the third set she leaded 4-1 but a black-out in her mind didn’t allow her to win. In Madrid facing Radwanska in the 2nd round, Svetlana obtained 2 match points but she wasn’t able to close the match with a victory. In Rome the scheduling of matches forced Svetlana and Jelena Jankovic to play at 11.30 pm, with a cold and humide weather that caused a contracture to Svetlana during the match. In spite of the previous torunaments played on clay, the Roland Garros inspired a perfect Kuznetsova. She won against Shapatava and Giorgi. Then a lofty match won against Petra Kvitova 6-7(3) 6-1 9-7 and an easy win on Lucie Safarova (6-3 6-4). An injury stopped Kuznetsova in the match against Simona Halep. A great season on clay that has given fantastically to Svetlana a victory on the hard surface of Washington. She also played quarter final in Beijing and Moscow.
In the beginning of 2015, Svetlana wasn’t able to play such a great tennis as during practising. She defeated Kerber in Miami but she lost to Serena Williams in the 3rd round. A thigh injury seemed to stop her after playing in Sochi for Fed Cup. In fact she could not play in Stuttgart and lost to Zhang in Praha in the 1st round. But in Madrid a very tough draw didn’t scared a determined Svetlana who was able to defeat Makarova, Muguruza, Stosur, Safarova and Sharapova before having new troubles with her thigh during the final lost to Kvitova.
Just a few days before the start of Roland Garros, it’s totally right “believing“. The chances for Svetlana to defeat any opponent grow up more and more when the surface is clay. At the same time, the Roland Garros is a tournament to be faced having two awarenesesses: if her body will respond positively and she will face each match with the right “interior calm” Svetlana is one of the pretender for winning the trophy, if things will turn in the bad way the 29-year-old Russian player has the “blue blood” to redeem herself in the second part of the season. The elements presented in this article, underline and confirm as the greatness of Svetlana Kuznetsova is not only on clay but she can surely be defined an all-round player.
Traduzione di SABINA BOLLATTINO