2017 US Open player profile: Svetlana Kuznetsova

Svetlana Kuznetsova returns to the US Open looking for more success especially after a disappointing season thus far, with a great run awaiting for her if she were to receive a favourable draw.

2017 US Open player profile: Svetlana Kuznetsova
Svetlana Kuznetsova with her 2004 US Open trophy | Photo: Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

A former champion here in Flushing Meadows all the way back in 2004, it seemed like it was just yesterday when Svetlana Kuznetsova came to the US Open as a less-known 19-year-old youngster with braces, and eventually clinching the title after a dream fortnight for the Russian. This year, she returns to New York as a respected 32-year-old veteran with two Grand Slam titles, having undergone the lowest point of her career due to injuries but also experiencing a career renaissance recently. The world number eight enters this year’s US Open looking for a deep run to rise in the rankings and this could be the perfect opportunity for her to do so.

Svetlana Kuznetsova in action at the 2016 US Open | Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America
Svetlana Kuznetsova in action at the 2016 US Open | Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America

Notable Results to Date

Kuznetsova’s highlight of the season is certainly her runner-up finish at the BNP Paribas Open. She had a disappointing start to the year after failing to defend her title in Sydney before falling in the fourth round of the Australian Open, where she had the golden opportunity to progress deep in the draw. Defeating quality players like Roberta Vinci, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and Karolina Pliskova along the way, the Russian finally had the best run of her season thus far as she stormed to the final in Indian Wells before falling to compatriot Elena Vesnina.

Her clay court season was disappointing as she only managed to reach the semi-final of one of the four events she played, losing to eventual finalist Kristina Mladenovic at the Mutua Madrid Open. Being given a favourable draw at Roland Garros, Kuznetsova was tipped to clinch her third Grand Slam title but crumbled to the pressure as she fell to Caroline Wozniacki in three sets.

Kuznetsova’s grass court results were surprisingly solid as she reached the quarterfinals at the Eastbourne International before reaching the same stage at the Wimbledon Championships for the first time since 2007. The Russian was able to rattle off some great wins on her least favourite surface; defeating Kristina Mladenovic and Agnieszka Radwanska in her runs and was just five points away from upsetting soon-to-be world number one Karolina Pliskova in Eastbourne.

Svetlana Kuznetsova retrieves a shot at the US Open last year | Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America
Svetlana Kuznetsova retrieves a shot at the US Open last year | Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America

Recent results leading up to the US Open

The Russian started off her US Open Series with the worst possible result, crashing out in the opening round of the Rogers Cup held in Toronto. She opted for a lighter schedule this year and it often proved to have backfired as she suffered from her first opening round defeat in the year against the in-form Catherine Bellis, who triumphed in two tight sets.

However, she was able to bounce straight back at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, reaching the quarterfinals as the eighth seed. Defeating quality players like Yulia Putintseva and Carla Suarez Navarro, the Russian progressed to the quarterfinals where she faced Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza. She was almost able to overturn a 1-4 head-to-head record against the Spaniard but failed to capitalize on her opportunities, eventually falling in a tough three-setter which could arguably be considered as the best match of the tournament.

Svetlana Kuznetsova in action at the Western and Southern Open | Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images North America
Svetlana Kuznetsova in action at the Western and Southern Open | Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images North America

Best US Open results

Kuznetsova has previously triumphed in New York back in 2004 when she was the ninth seed. The Russian strolled to the title losing only one set in the process and defeated two Top 10 players in the final rounds as she came back from losing the first set with a breadstick scoreline in the semifinal against Lindsay Davenport to clinch the win, reaching her first Grand Slam final. There, she defeated compatriot Elena Dementieva in an all-Russian final as Kuznetsova claimed the win in straight sets, sealing the biggest title of her career at just the young age of 19.

Kuznetsova’s last second-week appearance at the US Open came in 2011 before injuries derailed her career as she was forced out of action for a lengthy period of time. Fortunately, the Russian had a career resurgence and soon fought her way back into the Top 10 of the rankings. The past three years saw Kuznetsova fall before the second round of competition, with two first-round exits in 2014 and 2015.

Being the ninth seed last year, Kuznetsova easily defeated fellow veteran Francesca Schiavone in straight sets as she just gave up a mere three games along the way. However, she fell to former world number one Caroline Wozniacki in a tough second-rounder as the Dane prevailed in two straight sets with the Russian being unable to convert all her chances.

Svetlana Kuznetsova hits a forehand at the 2016 US Open | Photo: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images North America
Svetlana Kuznetsova hits a forehand at the 2016 US Open | Photo: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images North America

How Kuznetsova’s game translates to the surface

Kuznetsova excels on hard courts, as seen in all her previous results. Being an all-round player as she is, the Russian often mixes in a variety of shots in her game and that would be useful against players on the hard courts in New York. Her slices during baseline rallies could allow her to survive on the defense and drop shots could catch her opponents off-guard and mixes up the rhythm. A former world number two, Kuznetsova would also be able to dictate play from the baseline as her groundstrokes are exceptionally powerful when she decides to be on the offense, especially her incredible double-handed backhand which is able to fire winners after winners.

Kuznetsova is also an accomplished doubles player in the past, and she could also opt to go up to the net more often to kill off some points there with her great hands at the net. Without a doubt, the Russian is definitely one of the most talented top players currently.

With a good draw, Kuznetsova would certainly be able to progress deep in the draw as she has the ability to beat her fellow top-ranked players. With the unpredictability of the WTA tour currently, the Russian could make use of her full opportunity and rise in the rankings.

Svetlana Kuznetsova hits a volley at last year's US Open | Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America
Svetlana Kuznetsova hits a volley at last year's US Open | Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America