World number eight Svetlana Kuznetsova would continue her journey at the BNP Paribas Open as she would play 21st seed Caroline Garcia in the fourth round, with both players looking to make the quarterfinals here in the desert.
Kuznetsova’s 2017 so far
The Russian had a very poor start to the 2017 season, and was unable to replicate her late season resurgence this year as she fell in the quarterfinals of the Brisbane International to Garbine Muguruza in straight sets, before she failed to defend her title at the Sydney International as she fell to compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second round. Her poor results continued at the first grand slam of the year, once again falling to Pavlyuchenkova in the fourth round to crash out of the tournament earlier than expected.
Hoping to bounce back from her disappointing losses at the start of the year, Kuznetsova only received further disappointment as she fell to Yulia Putintseva in the quarterfinal of the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy, bringing her win-loss record of the year to 7-4.
Garcia’s 2017 so far
The Frenchwoman had an even poorer start to the season than Kuznetsova as she failed to reach the quarterfinals for any of the tournaments she participated in this year. Injuries at the start of the year caused her first tournament of the year to be the Australian Open, having no match practice before coming into the first grand slam of the year. There, she lost to Barbora Strycova in the third round and followed it up with a shock straight sets loss to Mandy Minella in the second round of the Taiwan Open, despite being the third seed at the tournament.
Another second round exit followed as she lost to the second-seeded Karolina Pliskova at the Qatar Total Open in straight sets, continuing her disappointing start to the season. Being the defending semifinalist at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, Garcia fell to Monica Puig in three sets as she suffered yet another poor defeat. The first round of the Malaysian Open then saw her shockingly fall to Anna Kalinskaya in straight sets, looking out of sorts in the loss.
Kuznetsova’s path to the fourth round
Svetlana Kuznetsova received a bye into the second round as a seeded player, and there she got past a tricky opponent in Johanna Larsson as she had to recover from a deficit in the second set to triumph in straight sets. Then, the Russian followed it up with an encouraging victory over Roberta Vinci in three sets, looking in great form and seemed like one of the favorites for the title.
Garcia’s path to the fourth round
Caroline Garcia got past another Russian player Evgeniya Rodina, a lucky-loser, in the second round as she comfortably progressed to the third round with a straight-sets victory. There, she faced 11th seed Johanna Konta as the Frenchwoman stole the win in a tough match which was concluded in a final set tiebreak, causing the upset to reach this stage of the tournament.
The Russian leads their head-to-head record by two matches to one, losing their first meeting at the Australian Open in 2015 before bouncing back to win their last two meetings in the past year. Their closest encounter was at the Miami Open as Kuznetsova prevailed 8-6 in the final set tiebreaker, stealing the victory and eventually reaching the final of the tournament. In their only meeting on clay at the Rome Masters, Kuznetsova won in a tight straight sets match.
Kuznetsova would be relying on her solid groundstrokes and her powerful backhands to dictate play and control the proceedings, but the inconsistency on her serve and her unforced errors might cost her greatly in the match. Garcia’s strength in this match would be her strong serve which would definitely aid her in her service games. As Kuznetsova has more weapons and the confidence heading into the match, she would definitely be the huge favorite here. Nevertheless, you can never rule out the always dangerous Caroline Garcia, who is definitely capable of creating an upset.
Prediction: Svetlana Kuznetsova d. Caroline Garcia in three sets