“We always have long matches … It’s always an interesting match, as we don’t play boom-boom tennis. We play different kinds of spin…” – Svetlana Kuznetsova on playing against Francesca Schiavone.
It took two continents, two events, six sets, over six hours and 13 match points, but Svetlana Kuznetsova finally defeated Francesca Schiavone in another topsy-turvy yet exciting match that had both players playing their best at the very end. This latest installment of “Franlana” took place in today’s third round of the Dubai Duty Free Championships where in just under two hours Kuznetsova won 1-6, 6-0, 7-5 versus Schiavone.
The first two sets were quick and aside from some fine points rather forgettable. Schiavone came out on fire with 12 winners and it was all “Sveta” could do to win one game in the first set. But then after a quick chat with her coach, Kuznetsova came out more determined while Schiavone’s level dropped considerably and let the Russian literally run away with a bagel in the second set.
But as fans saw in Melbourne, both women raised their level in the final set and produced their best tennis. After dropping her opening service game, Kuznetsova reeled off eight straight points to go up 2-1 and managed to tough out several service games to keep even with the Italian who again started producing magnificent tennis from the baseline. Kuznetsova broke to go up 5-3 in the final set but dropped serve for 5-4.
It was then shades of the historic match in Melbourne returned. Kuznetsova found herself with match points during each of Schiavone’s subsequent service games only to have the Italian raise her level to stave off defeat. Schiavone’s first serve let her down in the final minutes but it was only until Kuznetsova had match point number seven at 6-5 was she able to step up and hit a short crosscourt forehand winner to finally, and I do mean finally, take out Schiavone.
Kuznetsova was relieved and happy in her on-court interview though she admitted being “embarrassed” about being still ranked No. 23 although as she pointed the only good thing about being No. 23 is that it “was Michael Jordan’s number.’
“Sveta” may never reach “Air Jordan’s” heights but she’s got to be on cloud nine today.