The third round of the BNP Paribas Open saw a battle between the two veterans on the tour, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Roberta Vinci. It was a match full of momentum swings as all three sets played were very one-sided, with the Russian having the last laugh as she prevailed in the high-quality match to progress to the fourth round.
Kuznetsova strolls to win the first set
Kuznetsova came into the match firing, hitting strong serves in with her solid groundstrokes helping her to finish off the points. The fast start to the match allowed her to have a comfortable hold of service in the opening game of the match, looking very solid on her serve. The Russian continued her great start to the match as she quickly earned a break point in her opening return game, but was unable to convert as she threw a forehand into the net, thus allowing Vinci to hold serve in the end and prevent herself from falling behind the early break.
The efforts of Kuznetsova finally paid off as she held her serve in the next game before making the first breakthrough of the match by breaking down Vinci’s serve and taking the early advantage, jumping out to a 3-1 lead after saving a game point in the process. The two-time grand slam champion continued to cruise through the first set as she earned another break point in the sixth game of the match, but Vinci’s backhand slice shots saved her from the brink as she managed to come back and hold onto her service game, lessening the deficit to two games.
Nevertheless, Kuznetsova managed to regain the three-game lead by holding her serve from being 15-30 down, placing herself just one game away from winning the first set. Unable to deal with Kuznetsova’s impressive offensive game, Vinci soon lost the first set 2-6 after just 34 minutes to gift the Russian the advantage.
Vinci mounts a comeback
The second set saw Vinci make a much better start as compared to the first after the Italian broke serve from being 30-0 down and took the advantage, jumping off to an early lead. This lead was extended after the 2015 US Open finalist consolidated the break of serve with a nervy service hold, having to fend off a break point along the way. The second set was all about Vinci as she continued to stroll through the set, breaking serve in a marathon 15-points game after saving three game points to affirm her lead on the scoreboard. The Italian finally earned a comfortable service hold as she extended her lead to four games, leaving Kuznetsova shell-shocked.
The Russian was at the risk of being down a triple break deficit as Vinci went up 0-30 in her next service game, but Kuznetsova managed to fight her way back and take the consolation hold of service and get onto the scoreboard in the second set. Kuznetsova soon found herself serving to stay in the set in the seventh game after another easy service hold from the Italian, who managed to earn three set points behind the inconsistent serve of the Russian. With some inspired tennis, Kuznetsova came up with some amazing shots to save all the set points and narrowly hold onto her service game to stay in the set for at least one more game. Unable to deal with the Vinci serve well, the Russian soon found herself having a coaching time-out session after the Italian stormed back to take the second set 6-2, leveling the match at one set all after just 70 minutes of play.
Kuznetsova strolls to the victory
The momentum shifted back to Kuznetsova once more in the final set as she held serve in a tense opening game of the set, coming from 15-30 down to do so and securing the best possible start to the final set. Vinci failed to capitalize on her chances as she had a 30-0 lead in her opening service game of the set but lost four straight points to gift the break to her opponent, falling behind an early deficit. With the momentum running in her, Kuznetsova powered her way through to yet another service break in the fourth game, jumping out to a double break advantage and a formidable 4-0 lead.
Fending off break points, the Russian held her serve to consolidate the second service break and was in an advantageous position to close out the match having just been one game away from victory. After a service hold to love for Vinci, who tried to make the last push, it proved to be just a consolation game as Kuznetsova also had a love service hold of her own, cruising to the victory within just 98 minutes of play.