The second round of the BNP Paribas Open saw Svetlana Kuznetsova battle past Johanna Larsson in straight sets, with the Swedish being able to cause the Russian all kinds of trouble during the match. Nevertheless, the more experienced player was able to dictate play and get the win, booking a spot in the third round.
Larsson fights back
A fast start to the match for Kuznetsova saw her have the comfortable service hold to love, with Larsson not even having the chance to play a proper rally as she was having a lot of problems dealing with the serve of the Russian, unable to send a return into play in the early stages. Dictating play with her world-class backhand, Kuznetsova dominated the next game too as she broke serve to love and continued her good start to the match, winning the first eight points in a row.
This was when Kuznetsova failed to find her first serves and started to look very shaky on her groundstrokes, gifting the advantage back to the Swedish as they returned level on serve in the set. After an exchange of service holds, it was Kuznetsova who stepped up her game and made the first breakthrough by breaking serve for the second time in the set, regaining the lead and looking poised to close out the first set. Serving for the set at 5-4, Kuznetsova let the lead slip out of her hands once more as Larsson broke back and leveled the scores at 5-5, extending the set into an 11th game.
After Kuznetsova wasted three set points in the 12th game, the set was eventually brought to a tiebreak to decide the proceedings, with the former world number two jumping out to a 4-1 lead. From there on, Kuznetsova did not look back as she held onto the lead tightly to close out the first set 7-6 after 53 minutes of play.
Kuznetsova comes from behind
With the momentum carried over from the first set, Kuznetsova played her best tennis and broke serve to love once again in the opening game of the second set, earning a set and a break lead and looking to cruise to yet another victory. The Russian had another chance to extend her lead when she earned another break point in the third game but was unable to convert after a forehand unforced error, which gave Larsson the way back into the game and eventually narrowly held her serve.
This cost greatly for Kuznetsova as she lost her service game in the next game, allowing Larsson to return level in the set. With the Russian looking out of sorts, she was broken for the second consecutive time in the match as she fell behind in the scoreboard for the first time as she went down 2-4, losing four straight games. Maintaining her composure, Kuznetsova bounced back the best way possible as she broke to love for the second time in the match, returning on serve and increasing her chances for a straight-sets victory.
The two-time Grand Slam champion continued her excellent comeback as she held her serve before breaking serve for one more time, regaining the lead and placing herself just one game away from the victory. Having the opportunity to serve out the match, the Russian did just so as she held her serve to 30, sealing the match in 1 hour and 35 minutes.
Next up for Kuznetsova
The Russian would now face a familiar foe in Roberta Vinci, whom she has a 3-3 head-to-head record against. Their last match was at the WTA Elite Trophy in 2015 where Vinci triumphed in straight sets, but the Russian will look to turn that around on Sunday.