Svetlana Surprise

I was traveling last week so this post is a tad late. But I did want to briefly write about the surprise run of Svetlana Kuznetsova to the Cincinnati final last week. Surprises in the veteran Russian’s career are nothing new. But this latest unexpected chapter could not have come at a better time as the former champion heads into next week’s US Open.

Before Cincinnati, the 34-year-old Kuznetsova found herself well outside the top 100 rankings. That was due first to injury that kept her play at a minimum at the start of the season. Then after Wimbledon, the Russian found herself in a bizarre situation of not being able to get a U.S. visa for travel. The delay forced her to not be able to defend her Washington, D.C. title from a year ago. Fortunately, a visa was secured just in time for the upcoming hard court events in Toronto and Cincinnati, both of which Kuznetsova lucked into getting a last minute wildcard for both.

In Toronto, Kuznetsova enjoyed several good wins before losing to Wimbledon winner Simona Halep. But it was in Cincinnati where Kuznetsova suddenly found the vintage form that took her as high as No.2 in the world.

Kuznetsova knocked out four top 11 players in Anastasia Sevastova, Sloane Stephens, Karolina Pliskova, and Ash Barty. She just came up short in the final to Madison Keys, but the solid week propelled Kuznetsova back into the top 60 WTA rankings.

Now, all of sudden, Kuznetsova enters New York being touted as a potential “bracket buster”. She’ll take on Kristie Ahn in the first round and could possibly get a second round rematch with Sloane Stephens. Kuznetsova always enjoys playing in New York, but this time around she just might enjoy it even more, given her new outlook on her long career, which she talked about in Cincinnati.

“I was coming here trying to enjoy the tennis and I still have the same goal. Taking losses not so hard on myself, as the wins as well. Yeah I’m really happy I’m in the finals, but it’s not so happy or end of the life if I lose or amazing. I’m still happy person. I enjoy what I do. And this is the main thing, to stay stable everywhere in the life.”

Kuznetsova, despite having won two major titles (US Open, 2004, and French Open, 2009) has always been viewed by some as an underachiever, given all her talents. That’s even though she won two majors during the reign of the greatest of all time – Serena Williams.

Kuznetsova, who just passed the $25 million dollar mark in career prize money, could have certainly decided to call time on her stellar career when things were going so great. But she’s still out there, not only enjoying the tennis, but also making some big noise in the biggest events. I’ve often said that when “Sveta” plays at her very best, she’s a true pleasure to watch on court. And it’s great to see her back on court playing at a top level, with perhaps a chance to surprise us again with another deep run at a major.

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