By Erik Gudris | Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Svetlana Kuznetsova used her experience and all-court game to once again send Eugenie Bouchard packing early, this time in Cincinnati.
Photo Credit: Getty
Two of the summer's more intriguing players and storylines collided in a second round match at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati on Wednesday night. For one woman, the tournament goes on. For the other, more questions linger about where her game is right now.
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No. 7 seed Eugenie Bouchard entered this match looking for some momentum after having lost her opening round last week at the Rogers Cup in Montreal in front of a hopeful Canadian crowd. Facing her was Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova who recently won her first title in four years in Washington D.C.
Early on, it was the Russian who looked sharper as she broke Bouchard's serve in the opening game. With Bouchard spraying balls and looking out of sorts like she did in Montreal, a quick evening in favor of Kuznetsova looked possible.
Kuznetsova used variety, spin and depth to keep Bouchard off balance for most of the first set. Though Bouchard would keep things close, she never looked like she had a ready-made solution to solving the Russian's riddle. Every shot came back at Bouchard slightly different and that proved troublesome for the Canadian. Kuznetsova would hang on to her lead and close out the set 6-4 with a slice forehand winner on her fourth set point.
While the Russian earned an early break in the second set, things turned around for Bouchard. Kuznetsova helped by letting her form dip midway through. A double fault from Kuznetsova handed Bouchard a 4-2 lead. Taking advantage, Bouchard would not back down. With a strong service hold, Bouchard took the set 6-3 and forced a decider.
The final set was still up for grabs especially after Kuznetsova rebounded. As Kuznetsova went back to hitting with more power and spin, Bouchard countered by stepping into the baseline and taking the ball earlier. With both players now playing their best, the match quality increased.
Kuznetsova threw in some theatrics along the way including striking a forehand pass winner that sent her down on to the court.
Bouchard though would falter again late in the match. Despite looking in control of her service game at 3-2, the Canadian then threw in several unnecessary unforced errors. That set up break point for Kuznetsova. The Russian responded with a run-around, roundhouse forehand return winner off of a second serve for 4-2. Though her next service game got a little dicey, Kuznetsova held for 5-2.
The end proved quick for Bouchard who again offered up more errors. Kuznetsova sealed victory after Bouchard sent a final forehand long on the second match point against her. With that, Kuznetsova celebrated the 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 victory sending her into the third round.
For Bouchard, who has now yet to win a match since reaching the Wimbledon finals, questions remain as to if she can bounce back in time for the U.S. Open.
"It was a little bit up and down match, but we both played great," Kuznetsova said later. "Genie raised her game in second and third sets, but I defended well so I'm pretty happy."
The 29-year-old Kuznetsova is happy to again be playing good tennis against the world's best after several years of injuries.
"Finally! I've been working a lot. I was suffering some tough moments on court and I was not enjoying it so much. But I just feel great out there now, to feel physically well, healthy, not so many injuries, Thank God! I'm not that old but I'm getting there."
Kuznetsova plays Ana Ivanovic in the next round.