The resurgent Svetlana Kuznetsova made her return to a WTA final after ousting former top-10 player Andrea Petkovic in the semifinals of the 2018 Citi Open with a straightforward 6-2, 6-2 scoreline. The Russian, who looked so impressive throughout the week here in Washington D.C, lost just 14 games en route to the championship match and she will be looking to claim her first title of any kind since the 2016 Sydney International.
People came into the semifinal sceptical about Kuznetsova’s chances as Petkovic led their head-to-head record 4-2 and looked in top form here as well. However, the former world number two defied the odds and proved them wrong, grabbing the comfortable win after just an hour and 22-minutes of play.
Kuznetsova recovers from an early deficit, takes the first set comfortably
It was a booming start for Petkovic as she came out of the blocks firing on all cylinders, grabbing eight of the opening nine points in a flash. Her precise and clean hitting allowed her to claim a comfortable hold before she benefited from Kuznetsova’s slow start, jumping out to an early 2-0 lead.
However, that proved to be the last game Petkovic will win in the first set. At the moment when Kuznetsova was 0-2 0-30 down, the Russian went like a woman on a mission from then onwards. Consecutive winners followed by a Petkovic double-fault allowed the former world number two to grab the immediate break back and she came out of nowhere to return on serve.
Kuznetsova overcame several struggles on her serve, and now it was the Russian who seems to be unstoppable. Hitting countless winners, she soon powered to a 3-2 lead with Petkovic’s game experiencing an obvious dip in level. The German, who could not miss in the opening two games, was now missing every shot as this gave rise to Kuznetsova’s confidence.
The sixth game featured a golden opportunity for Petkovic to break back and level the scores but Kuznetsova was just too solid for her opponent and she saved the sole break point with a stunning and risky drop shot winner which barely clipped the line. With nothing going right for the world number 91, she was broken on the third consecutive occasion and Kuznetsova ultimately comfortably served out the first set 6-2 after just 36 minutes of play.
Kuznetsova strolls to the win
Having started the match losing eight of the first nine points, Kuznetsova started the second set in the exact opposite way. She took the early lead before Petkovic stopped the eight consecutive game rout, serving to lessen the deficit. It seemed as though the German was trying to play catch-up to the Russian, who played one level higher throughout the match.
A lengthy affair came in the fifth game, and this time despite some tough resistance from Petkovic, Kuznetsova was able to convert her fourth break point and open up a commanding 5-1 lead to be just a game away from the victory. Nonetheless, Petkovic held her nerves and stayed cool when serving to stay in the match, grabbing a consolation game before an improbable comeback was seemingly on the cards as the nerves kicked in for Kuznetsova. However, after fending off two break points, the unseeded Russian was fourth-time lucky as she closed out the match with a stunning backhand down-the-line winner.