Eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova faced off with local wildcard Jaimee Fourlis in the second round of the Australian Open. The higher-ranked player looked in great form when she strolled through the first round losing just one single game against Mariana Duque-Marino and the wildcard earned a comfortable victory over Anna Tatishvili. Kuznetsova entered the match as the heavy favourite, and she dutifully completed her job when she finished the match in straight sets to set up a blockbuster third round match against Jankovic.
Kuznetsova strolls to the first set
The wild card started the match on a negative note as she hit three consecutive unforced errors to start the match with and give Kuznetsova triple break point opportunities. Despite fighting back to deuce and having game points of her own, Fourlis eventually lost the game in eight minutes to allow Kuznetsova to take the early lead in the match. Looking to consolidate the break of service, the Russian was particularly disappointing on her serve after hitting three double faults to immediately give the break back and lose her advantage. Unaffected by the loss of her service game, Kuznetsova broke back immediately to regain the lead after some poor play by Fourlis.
This time, the Russian finally managed to consolidate the break of service after holding her serve comfortably mainly thanks to Fourlis’ unforced errors yet again. Some offensive style of tennis then saw Kuznetsova break serve for the third time in a row to extend her lead and look to close out the first set. A leaky service game saw the Russian hold serve after having to save a break point to do so. Despite taking a big lead in the scoreboard, Kuznetsova was actually playing some poor tennis, as seen in the seventh game where she hit three unforced errors to give Fourlis a service hold which kept her in the set. Known for her inability to close out sets, Kuznetsova once again had to save a break point to close out the game, and the set after 42 minutes.
Kuznetsova closes out the victory
The erratic Russian made another three unforced errors in the opening game of the second set, as Fourlis took advantage of the errors to hold serve to start the set with. Kuznetsova then made the first breakthrough of the second set when she broke serve at 1-1 to take the lead after a double fault made by Fourlis on break point. The two-time grand slam champion then further affirmed her lead as she consolidated the break of service and looked to have the momentum in her. Another double fault at a crucial moment once again cost Fourlis greatly as she was broken once more to fall further behind with a 4-1 deficit, with the defeat looming ahead. Kuznetsova then got closer to a victory as she had another service hold to put herself just one game away from the win. Similar to the first set, Kuznetsova faced some problems while closing out the match as the game was extended to deuce after Fourlis put up some great resistance. However, it was all too late as Kuznetsova managed to close out the comfortable win in just 83 minutes.
Next up for Kuznetsova
Kuznetsova would next face a very tricky and dangerous opponent in former world number one Jelena Jankovic in the third round of competition. Jankovic leads their rivalry by 8-6, and their last meeting came on the hard courts of Guangzhou in 2015 when the Serbian triumphed in straight sets. It would definitely be a tight match and is one of the must-see matches of the third round.