Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sveta's clay dream.

Consider the first few months of 2011 and they were definitely a case of what might have been for Svetlana Kuznetsova. The former world number two did reach the final of the WTA Premier level event in Dubai and also took part in that Australian Open fourth round epic with Francesca Schiavone. At 4 hours and 44 minutes, it was the longest women’s Grand Slam match in the Open era. But for someone so used to winning, Kuznetsova felt frustrated so many close matches went against her, not least against Schiavone in Melbourne: ‘A few points just didn’t go my way. I was working hard and nearly every event I felt like I was playing well enough to win the trophy. In Auckland, I was up a set and 5-3 against Peng Shuai. Then the Australian Open too – so many chances to win that match against Schiavone. But at least I was playing well, not like in 2010 when I felt I was far away from my best tennis a lot of the time.’

For Kuznetsova, the problem isn’t producing the tennis needed to beat the WTA’s top-ranked players. It’s more to do with some other things that are part and parcel of being a professional tennis player: ‘I have been working hard and I still love my game and still feel like I have a lot to give to tennis. But I am struggling a bit more with the travel and being away from home because I have been doing it all for a long time and I am getting older in tennis years now at 25. Take Indian Wells and Miami. I didn’t do that well this year, but I think that was because it was the ninth year I was playing in those places and I just could not get excited and felt bored. I need to find something different to inspire me in future, that’s for sure.’

If anything can retain Kuznetsova’s interest, it is a return to Europe and the red clay that has brought her so much past success. Victory at the 2009 French Open was the Russian’s second Grand Slam singles title – the highlight of a stellar clay court tear that year which also included a WTA Premier title in Stuttgart and a final in Rome. By comparison, Kuznetsova disappointed on the surface last season but she remains one of the few WTA players who appear to have a natural game for the dirt: ‘Sam Stosur and Schiavone are very good but I don’t think there are too many others who play a true clay court game. They’re more playing hard court tennis on a clay court. For example, Victoria (Azarenka) or Caroline (Wozniacki), they do ok but don’t really change their shots much for clay, say play shots higher over the net with more spin.

I don’t think some players struggle because they’re thinking the wrong tactics. It is more that their game is just not suited to clay. For example, if you look at Maria (Sharapova) she has tried to think a lot about how to play on clay. But her problem is her shots are hard and flat, as my game is more natural for clay because I play with more spin. But I still need to keep working hard to improve.’

Fed Cup also remains a huge motivation for the patriotic Kuznetsova. She has helped Russia win the coveted trophy three times before but with a semi-final against Italy in Moscow coming up, Kuznetsova is hungry for more: ‘We want revenge because last time we played them they kicked our butts in Italy! But now this time they will be without Flavia (Pennetta) and Francesca Schiavone. It still won’t be easy but we are at home and have a strong team.’
No one doubts Kuznetsova’s commitment to her country but the main area of uncertainty for many is if she can still be consistent enough to deliver at the highest level. Cue her typically honest response: ‘People know I am unpredictable, this is clear, it depends on the day! If I have a good day, then I can beat anyone, but my problem is being consistent. I dream of being as consistent as Caroline Wozniacki for the whole season, not just clay courts or whatever. If I had that I could achieve everything! If God could just give me two or three years of consistency like that for the whole season, then I could quit tennis very happy.’

She might not get her wish – but the reality is Kuznetsova remains one of the WTA’s biggest stars and a dangerous opponent for anyone in the clay court swing.

From On The Baseline


Carlos said...

Kuzzie on I.W. and Miami, "I could not get excited and felt bored". OK, I think is time for her to retire. This two tournaments are part of The 7 Rings of Hell if she doesn't feel motivated why play? If clay is her forte how come only one Roland Garros title? This article along with Kuznetsova are rubbing me the wrong way.

Emily or as Carlos likes to call me "Captain" said...

Sorry you don't agree with the article. Like I said I didn't write it.

Carlos said...

Captain no need to apologize I didn't have anything against you and yes, you did say you didn't write the article. It was more of me being upset how Kuznetsova is feeling this days and the author of the article for not taking Kuznetsova to task.

What is truly bugging is the "schism" of your blog Captain.

Emily or as Carlos likes to call me "Captain" said...

In What way is the devision bugging you? I like to take the comments into account! And take note and try and fix the issues.

Be honest Carlos :P

Carlos said...

Captain I always try to be honest because I don't like being lie too.

I'll give you an example: A coach retires but before he/she leaves he tells the team the assistant head coach will take over. Everyone is waiting for a smooth transition but the first thing the assistant -now the new head coach- does is ask for the players names and positions that they play. It will not inspire the players.

I'll be brutal honest, you named your friend as a contributor but was she following your blog? It seemed to me she didn't, even if she did she came off as she didn't. A blog may have 100 contributors all with different styles, opinions, and philosophies, but the contributor should have an idea who the audience is, specially that this blog is growing. If your friend wanted to find out something about me all she had to do was read the comments that I written. She could have found out my country of origin even my showering habits (over share I know). Being your friend she could have asked you for my profile which you have (Marija Z. too). I thought she came off as a show off, she said she could have been a professional tennis player O.K. I say people make career changes by following the money. I don't know your friend personally, she may be the sweet young lady but that is how I perceived her. As an advise to your friend never use your entire name due to identity theft and tell her I'm a blue collar American I don't read!

In another note I switched to Internet Explorer 9, since then I been having problems posting. To preview I have to push the "preview button" up to three times. If I don't "preview" I can't directly post a comment. :/

Emily or as Carlos likes to call me "Captain" said...

Thankyou for your honesty :)

I understand that it is different to suddenly have another person, you don't even know contribute to a blog you read. I can assure you I am not going anywhere. And I asked Lucinda to help me frome day 1, but she decided it would be best to wait a while, she did read my blog, however, its my understanding she never made comment. I think Lucinda's thought process with her "Getting to know you" post was to try and have a more personal expirence learning about the readers! And yes she could have asked me for your profile. Lucinda can be seen as abit up herself when you first get to know her, but when you take time to talk to her (or comment on posts :P) she is really really nice. Ill be sure to tell her that, or you could even. Just try and make her feel welcome? Because I think she can sense that the reader community of the blog doesn't liker her, and she probably feels terrible.

Hmm, I don't know what's going on there! I use safari, because I have a mac, but don't know if anyone else is having trouble with Explorer 9 and get back to you.

Anonymous said...

Carlos, I'm using Firefox 4.0 and it works fine on this blog.

Wonder if I'll be able to see the Fed Cup this weekend.. Seems USA vs Germany. Translation: Maybe Petko vs. McHale? That's what I'm talking about!

Any idea what's going on with Melanie Oudin? Was she just a flash in the pan at the US Open? I noticed she's gained a bit of muscle. Is it slowing her down or has she already reached her ceiling in the WTA?

Carlos said...

It took me four months before I started posting comments on Marija Z's blog, about two before I started posting here. Personally I really dislike writting my personal profile and the last time I did was because that person kept insisting; and to top it off when I did that person got mad at me. I think the reader community of the blog likes Ms. Lucinda is just me being voicerous, then again my profile says I would! While I'm still being personal I find it insulting when someone ask me what book I'm reading, again is just me or as my sister would say, "You are just an ass", I don't deny I am one. I don't want to cause problems, chaos, or be an instigator so I'll give it another shot.

Carlos said...

Using Mozilla 4.0 and I lost my entire post.

Carlos said...

Trying again.

Oudin: It will be counter productive for her to gain weight she can check on what happened to JJ a couple years ago. JJ gained muscle and her game went south for the entire year. Oudin should work on her foot work and speed, she could become like Amanda Coetzer. IMO she was a flash at the USO, it was more of the Russians choking; at best Oudin can be ranked between 20-25.

Fed Cup: I'll rely on your updates Caps321 if you have time.

Carlos said...

BTW thanks for the tip Caps321, previously I had Mozilla 3.6 something but when I upgraded to 4.0 it went bunkers, I had to un-install. Followed your advise, right now Mozilla 4.0 working working much better than Explorer 9, I don't even have problems scrolling down.

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