Svetlana Kuznetsova clinched victory against Mona Barthel at the Andalucia Tennis Experience

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Dusty Payne

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  • Svetlana Kuznetsova clinched victory against Mona Barthel at the Andalucia Tennis Experience

Svetlana Kuznetsova clinched victory against Mona Barthel at the Andalucia Tennis Experience

Former world number two Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia strained hard to clinch victory over the German qualifier, Mona Barthel, in the first round of the Andalucia Tennis Experience at Marbella, Spain on Tuesday. Currently ranked 14th, the Russian fought for two hours and thirty eight minutes before sealing the match at 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-4, at the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) tournament.

25-year-old Kuznetsova was stretched to her limits in the contest by her German competitor, and was forced to expose her weaker game on clay court once again. After dropping the opening set, the Russian was on the verge of defeat in the next one but she bounced back right into the game after clinching the second set tie breaker. Kuznetsova turned the table on Barthel in the third set and wrapped up her 14th win of the running WTA season.

“I was expecting to hit more winners and it wasn’t happening because this is clay,” the Russian winner told after the match, “But I knew that if I kept fighting things might go my way, and I’m happy that I was able to do it.”

The match statistics were more or less similar for the two contestants, reflecting the sheer intensity of competition that unfolded. They served equally well and broke each other five times each in the contest. Barthel led the error count, spilling seven double faults, in contrast to four from her Russian opponent. She had a fiery start to the contest but kept losing steam as the contest progressed, eventually succumbing to Kuznetsova in the third set.

Barthel broke early in the opening set to lead 3-1 and kept pushing her competitor to commit mistakes. Kuznetsova had seven opportunities in the first set to break her opponent but she frittered away six of them to remain at disadvantage. The German sealed off the opening set at 6-4 with a second serve break, to get one up in the contest.

The 20-year-old German remained in the driving seat during the next set as well, pressurizing Kuznetsova to succumb to her. The Russian kept resisting and dragged the set into a tie breaker after striking an intense break. She remained focused in the tie breaker round and reeled off three straight points to bag the second set at 7-6(4).

Kuznetsova gained confidence from the second set win and continued to maneuver through the third set with aggressive moves. She dropped serve twice but stung three break points to edge past the German, to ensure victory at 6-4.

The Russian will compete against Agnes Szavay of Hungary in the second round of the Andalucia Tennis Experience. Szavay defeated the unseeded Swede, Johanna Larson in the opening round at Marbella.

 

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