US Open: Svetlana Kuznetsova survives marathon against Marketa Vondrousova; saves three match points along the way

Svetlana Kuznetsova showed some great mental strength when she had to battle back from the brink to triumph against the Czech youngster Marketa Vondrousova in the first round of the US Open, saving a couple of match points along the way.

US Open: Svetlana Kuznetsova survives marathon against Marketa Vondrousova; saves three match points along the way
Svetlana Kuznetsova moves on to the second round in some fashion | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America
Marketa Vondrousova
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Svetlana Kuznetsova

Once the draw of the US Open was released, a notable match-up in the top quarter saw the eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova go up against the dangerous giant-killer and talented Marketa Vondrousova in the first round. The match lived up to the hype it received as the Russian eventually used her experience and stamina to help her prevail in three tight sets, saving an incredible three match points along the way.

Vondrousova steals the first set 6-4

Kuznetsova came into the match firing on all cylinders, looking very solid in her baseline game as she produced some powerful and consistent groundstrokes to outgun Vondrousova in the opening game, forcing her to commit a couple of errors as the Russian claimed the opening service break to take the lead. However, Kuznetsova next lost a 30-0 lead while throwing in three double faults due to some inconsistent second serves, allowing the youngster to break straight back and level the scores.

Svetlana Kuznetsova in action during the match | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America
Svetlana Kuznetsova in action during the match | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America

Vondrousova then had the first comfortable service hold of the day, putting in some powerful serves to take a 2-1 lead. Fending off two break points in the process, Kuznetsova lost two Hawkeye challenges in the marathon fourth game but still managed to narrowly hold her serve as Vondrousova failed to capitalize on her opportunities, throwing in unforced errors at the crucial moments which overwhelmed her powerful winners and amazing drop shots.

The talented Czech would rue all the missed opportunities as she was broken easily in the next game, with unforced errors starting to come off her racquet more often at this point of time, allowing Kuznetsova to regain the lead. Nonetheless, Vondrousova broke straight back with the help of several unforced errors by the veteran, who looked inconsistent at times. Claiming her sixth consecutive point, the youngster consolidated the break for a 4-3 lead at the changeover.

Svetlana Kuznetsova hits a backhand near the net | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America
Svetlana Kuznetsova hits a backhand near the net | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America

his time, it was Kuznetsova who started to spray unforced errors as she wasted two game points to gift Vondrousova the break, allowing her younger opponent to earn the golden opportunity to serve out the set at 5-3 up. However, Kuznetsova unexpectedly broke straight back as Vondrousova committed four straight unforced errors to allow the Russian a way back into the set.

However, there was a third consecutive break of serve as Kuznetsova did not look at her best, with her left wrist possibly bothering her considering that she took a medical time-out for the same problem at 3-2. Vondrousova earned two set points with a wonderful lob winner before converting one of them to seal the first set 6-4 after 45 minutes of play.

Marketa Vondrousova in action during her match | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America
Marketa Vondrousova in action during her match | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America

Kuznetsova comes out of nowhere to level the scores

Carrying over the momentum from the first set into the second, Vondrousova came from 0-30 down to narrowly hold her serve in the opening game as Kuznetsova started to be all over the place, losing her rhythm. Nevertheless, the Russian had a good service hold after she put some solid serves in, leveling the scores at 1-1. Vondrousova’s serve was simply too good for the Russian, who visibly struggled with a left wrist injury, preventing her elder counterpart from making the first breakthrough.

After several exchanges of service holds, it was unexpectedly Kuznetsova who made the first breakthrough as she broke serve at 3-3, coming from 2-3 down to eventually clinch three straight games to be just a game away from sealing the second set. Serving for the set at 5-4, Kuznetsova faced some nerves but stepped up her game when it mattered as she fended off a break point with a powerful forehand winner before coming up with some amazing shots to successfully hold her serve, taking the second set 6-4 in 40 minutes of play.

Svetlana Kuznetsova serves during the contest | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America
Svetlana Kuznetsova serves during the contest | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America

Kuznetsova fends off triple match points, prevails in a final-set tiebreak

Having the momentum running in her, Kuznetsova made the perfect start to the final set as she managed to dictate play using her powerful groundstrokes before Vondrousova double-faulted on break point to gift the Russian the early advantage. However, Kuznetsova was unable to onto her lead as she started to spray out unforced errors, allowing the Czech to return level as soon as possible. Drop shots seemed to have backfired on Vondrousova as the Czech lost all three points she included a drop shot in the third game, and yet another double fault on break point for a third consecutive break of serve, allowing Kuznetsova to regain the lead.

Unexpectedly, the Russian threw away her service game in just a little over one minute as her unforced errors proved to be costly, leveling the scores at 2-2. Vondrousova looked on course for a comfortable service hold when she led 40-0 but Kuznetsova stormed back to earn a break point, looking to take charge once more. However, the Russian was unable to capitalize on her chances as Vondrousova eventually held her serve for a 3-2 lead.

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Marketa Vondrousova was thrice a point away from getting the win | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America
Marketa Vondrousova was thrice a point away from getting the win | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America

ll of a sudden, Vondrousova became increasingly erratic while Kuznetsova started to become more solid in her play, clinching the next two games and edge closer towards the victory. However, the Czech remained composed and broke straight back before holding her serve for a 5-4 lead, being just one game away from claiming the huge win. Serving to stay in the match, Kuznetsova faced some nerves but managed to overcome them by incredibly saving three match points in impressive fashion, before holding her serve to level the scores at 5-5.

Kuznetsova then had the chance to take the lead when she led 0-30 but Vondrousova came up with some of her best serves to narrowly take the 6-5 lead, forcing Kuznetsova to serve to stay in the match once more. The Russian then comfortably held her serve to send the match into a deciding set tiebreak to decide the outcome of the match, with both players looking determined to get the win.

After losing the first point of the tiebreak, Kuznetsova strolled to a comfortable 5-1 lead within a blink of an eye, and was poised to earn the hard-fought victory. Soon after, the veteran sealed the tiebreak 7-2 and finally clinched the win having saved three match points after 2 hours and 31 minutes of play.

Svetlana Kuznetsova has much to improve over the fortnight if she were to mount a deep run | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America
Svetlana Kuznetsova has much to improve over the fortnight if she were to mount a deep run | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America