Eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova would be looking to create a deep run here at the Australian Open as she was handed a very favorable draw in Melbourne. She faced Mariana Duque-Marino in the third match scheduled on the Hisense Arena during the opening day of action. The Russian was the heavy favorite here in this first round match as she is the higher-ranked players and has more weapons needed to clinch the match.
Kuznetsova would want to achieve a good result here in Melbourne to rise in the rankings and also get her season going after some disappointing results in the first two weeks of the new year. A good win here could get Kuznetsova off to a great start to her Melbourne campaign and could give her the confidence she needs to power her into the second week. Kuznetsova finished the job excellently, as she strolled to the victory losing just one single game throughout the match.
Kuznetsova hands out a bagel
It was a nervy start to the match for the two-time grand slam champion as she held her service game to 30, throwing in one double fault in the process. Duque-Marino would regret missing the great opportunity to earn a break point as she was broken immediately in the next game and allowed Kuznetsova to get the early advantage. The Russian started to get herself fully into the match and played some excellent offensive style of tennis to consolidate the break of serve and extend her lead to three games. Duque-Marino continued to struggle on her service when she was once again broken to love after Kuznetsova took advantage of the slow first serves by the Colombian which barely went over the 130 km/h mark, which can be considered very slow in women’s tennis. Serving to stay in the first set, Duque-Marino finally won her first point in her service game and put up a tough fight but still eventually was broken once more to receive a bagel after just 24 minutes.
Kuznetsova strolls to victory
The Russian comfortably held her serve to start the second set to extend her streak to seven games in a row all the way from the start of the match. Kuznetsova continued to be merciless and broke for the fourth time in the match to earn the lead by a set and a break to edge closer to a victory. Kuznetsova originally had to chance to consolidate the break of serve after she earned a game point opportunity in her next service game, but she allowed Duque-Marino to get back in the match by gifting the break back to her immediately and allow her to get onto the scoreboard for the first time after the Russian could not find her first serves at the crucial stages.
However, the Colombian’s celebrations were short-lived though as Kuznetsova broke back immediately with some precise hitting to regain a three-game lead. The Russian then soon earned the chance to serve out the match as she broke serve once more to prevent Duque-Marino from holding serve for a single time during the whole match. Kuznetsova showed some nerves while serving for the match, and Duque-Marino took advantage of the situation to get to deuce but was just not able to find a break point. It was fourth time lucky for Kuznetsova as she eventually clinched the match with a forehand winner after just 56 minutes.
Duque-Marino was particularly disappointing in her service games especially after she just won 24 percent of first service points and 11 percent of second serve points, which amounts to just a total of seven points won on her service throughout the match. Whereas, it was a totally different case for Kuznetsova, who managed to win 75 percent of first service points but only won 48 percent of second service points. Both players were effective at the net as Duque-Marino won all of her net points and Kuznetsova won 12/15 of them. The crucial factor in the win was that Kuznetsova hit 19 unforced errors which came with 25 winners, but Duque-Marino made 18 unforced errors and only produced a total of 5 winners throughout the match.
Next up for Kuznetsova
The veteran would now face native wildcard Jaimee Fourlis in the second round after she managed to defeat Anna Tatishvili in straight sets. It should be as straightforward as this match, and Kuznetsova should have the ability to get through that match in straight sets.