The fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open saw Svetlana Kuznetsova cruising to a routine victory over Caroline Garcia, marking here best performance here in Indian Wells since 2008 when she reached the final.
Kuznetsova strolls to winning the first set
Just right in the first point of the match, the fans knew they were going to be treated a feast as Kuznetsova relied on her world-class defense to win the point, with Garcia making the unforced error in the end. Garcia soon found herself down two break points as the Russian managed to keep her at bay with her formidable groundstrokes, especially her backhand.
Kuznetsova then sealed up the first break of the match after Garcia hit a backhand wide to gift the Russian the first breakthrough of the morning. A comfortable service hold for Kuznetsova saw her hold serve to 15, with Garcia struggling to return serves as the Russian came out firing, extending her lead to two games on the scoreboard.
Kuznetsova continued to stroll through the match as she came up with more good returns and broke serve to love, taking a double break lead and looked to be cruising towards the first set victory having opened up a 3-0 lead in just a mere eight minutes. Kuznetsova seemed to have a slight hiccup as she was immediately broken back by Garcia, allowing her to take one of the breaks back and lessening the deficit after benefitting from an on-court coaching session during the changeover.
Great returns continued to be produced from the Russian as she had her third straight service break of the day, regaining her double break lead as Garcia was surprisingly struggling with her first serve points won. The Frenchwoman continued to look out of sorts as she continued to falter in her return games, giving Kuznetsova a hold to love once more.
Some great offensive style of tennis then helped the Russian to earn triple set points in the seventh game of the set, and successfully clinched the first set after just 24 minutes with a return winner on set point. This flawless set played by Kuznetsova saw Garcia only win seven points in the whole set, and just a mere two points on her serve in four different service games.
Kuznetsova faces some troubles
Kuznetsova then suffered a little let-down in her opening service game of the second set, sending in two double faults to allow Garcia to get to deuce in the game for her to have a chance to make a breakthrough. The Frenchwoman managed to hit a wonderful backhand return winner at deuce to earn herself a break point, the golden opportunity to take the lead in the second set.
Maintaining her composure, Kuznetsova managed to save this break point and a couple more which came by soon but was serving really poorly from the deuce court as she hit her fourth double fault of the game to gift Garcia her fifth break point of the game. This time, Kuznetsova was not able to save the break point and Garcia took the advantage early in the second set.
Garcia seemed to make a push for a deciding set as she earned her first ever game point of the match, but was unable to convert after Kuznetsova hit a wonderful and perfect backhand sliced shot to force an error out of the world number 25, before she eventually broke straight back and leveled the scores, returning on serve in the set.
Kuznetsova seemed to be playing her best tennis once again as she hit some wonderful winners for a comfortable service hold to lead for the first time in the second set. Some inspired tennis played by Garcia allowed her to have her first ever service hold of the whole match, before Kuznetsova also had a love hold of her own to edge out front on the scoreboard, leading by 3-2 in the second set. A great serve at 30-30 in the next game gave Garcia the game point opportunity to hold serve, and eventually only managed to convert her third game point to secure the service hold. Kuznetsova then had her third service hold to love in the match, and second consecutive, after she managed to let her serve to flourish under the pressure, hitting a second serve ace in the process.
Unforced errors started to cost the Frenchwoman greatly as she quickly found herself down 0-30 in the next game after also failing to find her first serves at the right time. Another unforced error gave Kuznetsova her first break points since the second game of the second set, but she was unable to convert the first after Garcia hit a perfect second serve which was unreturnable.
The Russian finally broke serve after Garcia’s drop shot attempted ended up in the net as she finally took the lead just at the last moment, earning the golden opportunity to serve out the match in straight sets. Playing a very sloppy game while serving for the match, Kuznetsova found herself down 0-40 all of a sudden as Garcia earned three break points for a chance to break back immediately. A forehand down the line went all wrong for Kuznetsova as she gave away the advantage as soon as possible, returning level on serve in the set and keeping the set all wide open again.
Unforced errors once again proved to be costly as Kuznetsova earned two match points on the Garcia serve. Although the Frenchwoman saved the first one with a lovely drop shot winner, she was unable to save the second as she sent a big forehand into the net to allow Kuznetsova to clinch the victory within 73 minutes.