Catherine Bellis earned just her second Top 10 victory of her career as her amazing run continued at the Rogers Cup, this time with eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova being one of her victims. It was truly an impressive performance from the youngster as she played well with controlled aggression and great confidence, defeating a faltering and tired Kuznetsova in straight sets. Bellis would now face Caroline Garcia for a place in the quarterfinals.
Break in the opening game proves to be pivotal for the first set
Kuznetsova made a slow start to the match as she was rusty in her baseline game, firing some powerful serves but failing to follow it up well as the Russian committed a couple of unforced errors to gift the break away in the opening game, allowing Bellis to take the early lead.
The American looked very comfortable on her serve when she easily held her serve to love, consolidating the break for a two-game advantage. Kuznetsova got onto the scoreboard in the third game after she held serve in a tight game, and earned the golden opportunity to break straight back as the Russian earned a break point in the fourth game.
However, Bellis remained composed and solid on her serve to hold onto her lead. Every game went in the way of the server as both players were very consistent on their serves, especially the American youngster. Kuznetsova found herself serving to stay in the set at 3-5, and found herself in deep trouble when she faced two set points.
However, a couple of powerful serves saved the Russian from the brink and forced the American to serve it out. Finally, Bellis was fifth time lucky as she showed some great mental strength to overcome the pressure, successfully serving the first set out after 37 minutes of play.
Kuznetsova loses 5-2 lead and gifts the win to Bellis
Down two break points in the opening game of the second set, everything seemed to be going wrong for the Russian as she was too passive and her movement around the court was slow. Nevertheless, she prevailed in lengthy rallies which seemed to have increased her confidence as she stormed back to secure the service hold narrowly for a positive start.
Out of nowhere, Kuznetsova unexpectedly took the lead as she finally managed to break serve with a booming forehand crosscourt return winner, jumping out to the early advantage in the second set. Coming from 15-30 down, Kuznetsova then consolidated the break as she put in some consistent serving at the crucial moments, holding onto her lead. Bellis remained calm and composed but was still unable to make a break back, allowing the Russian to earn a 5-2 lead eventually.
However, everything went wrong for the Top 10 player as the American stepped up her play and became more aggressive, leaving the passive Kuznetsova with no answers. Although the Russian did earn a set point at 5-4 up, Bellis saved it with an amazing backhand down-the-line winner which cleared her path to secure the nervy service hold.
Kuznetsova’s woes continued when Bellis kept up with her high quality of play, breaking serve for her fourth consecutive game to earn the golden opportunity to serve out the match. She then made it five with a comfortable service hold, with her aggression being too good for the Russian as the victory belonged to hers after 1 hour and 29 minutes.
By the numbers: Bellis was more solid amongst the two
Bellis was the better player on the court in the morning, hitting 15 unforced errors to go along with the 18 winners she hit in 89 minutes. Although Kuznetsova hit one more winner than her counterpart, she committed a total of 25 unforced errors and she was very erratic which caused her to lose the match.
Bellis won an amazing 74 percent of first service points, but only managed to win just eight points behind her second delivery. Nevertheless, Bellis’ high first serve percentage played a major part in her win. Kuznetsova was sloppy in her baseline game, hence she was often unable to put away easy shots set up by her powerful serves. The Russian won 64 percent of points behind her first serves and only won half of her second serve points.