x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Kuznetsova resists Stosur fightback

The Russian brings Samantha Stosur's unexpected run of success at Roland Garros to an end.

Svetlana Kuznetsova celebrates after beating Australia's Samantha Stosur in their French Open semi-final.
Svetlana Kuznetsova celebrates after beating Australia's Samantha Stosur in their French Open semi-final.

Considering the way Russians have figured so prominently at the top of women's tennis for the last decade, it is surprising that there have been only two all-Russian grand slam finals so far. The first was the French Open of 2004 in which Anastasia Myskina beat Elena Dementieva and the second followed at the US Open that year when Dementieva was again the unlucky loser - that time to Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Kuznetsova ensured that history will be repeated tomorrow when the seventh seed followed her top-ranked compatriot Dinara Safina into the final by overcoming the spirited challenge of Australia's Samantha Stosur, a doubles specialist who has yet to win even a minor title on the WTA tour. Kuznetsova capitalised on her battling quarter-final conquest of Serena Williams to ensure that Stosur's unexpected run of success here was brought to an end but only after a marathon 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3 struggle.

Like the first semi-final it was not a pretty match, although it improved after going into a tie break at the end of the second set. Kuznetsova should have closed out the match then having led the breaker 5-2 but she lost the next two points on her serve and handed a lifeline to the Australian which was gratefully grasped. After Stosur had snatched that tie-break she looked the stronger player going into the deciding set, but Kuznetsova, who had shown great tenacity when things looked like going against her against Serena refused to be denied and eventually sealed victory.

Initially it had been a question of who made fewer mistakes rather than who hit the greater number of winners. The powerfully built Stosur was broken five times and Kuznetsova dropped her serve on three occasions before squeezing nervously through. wjohnson@thenational.ae