2017 Wimbledon Player Profile: Svetlana Kuznetsova

World number eight Svetlana Kuznetsova returns to Wimbledon looking for another run into the second week, but her tricky draw definitely does not help as she also looks to maintain her place in the Top 10 of the rankings.

2017 Wimbledon Player Profile: Svetlana Kuznetsova
Svetlana Kuznetsova applauds the crowd at last year's Wimbledon Championships | Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images Europe

World number seven Svetlana Kuznetsova returns to the Wimbledon Championships searching for a good result after a resurgent 2016. Also, the Russian was one of the players who reached the second week last year despite grass not being her preferred surface.

Notable Results to Date

Svetlana Kuznetsova reached the quarterfinals in her first tournament of the year at the Brisbane International, before an early exit in Sydney where she was the defending champion. Tipped for a deep run at the Australian Open, Kuznetsova unexpectedly fell in the fourth round.

After several poor results and injury struggles, Kuznetsova bounced back the perfect way at the BNP Paribas Open as she stormed to the final, defeating quality players like Karolina Pliskova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the process.

Svetlana Kuznetsova hits a running forehand at Wimbledon last year | Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images Europe
Svetlana Kuznetsova hits a running forehand at Wimbledon last year | Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images Europe

With clay arguably being Kuznetsova’s strongest surface, there were a lot of expectations for the Russian but she failed to live up to them after falling in the early stages of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix to eventual champion Laura Siegemund. However, she showed some signs of a successful clay court season when she battled her way to a semifinal appearance at the Mutua Madrid Open where she lost to doubles partner Kristina Mladenovic in a tight straight sets match. Being one of the huge favourites to be the last one standing from the wide open draw at the French Open, Kuznetsova was unexpectedly upset by Caroline Wozniacki in three sets, looking out-of-sorts throughout the match.

Svetlana Kuznetsova hits a backhand at last year's Wimbledon Championships | Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images Europe
Svetlana Kuznetsova hits a backhand at last year's Wimbledon Championships | Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images Europe

Grass Court Results leading up to Wimbledon

Svetlana Kuznetsova opted for a much lighter schedule this year and has only played one grass court tournament in the lead-up to Wimbledon at the Aegon International. After narrowly being within two points from defeat in her opening round match against Mona Barthel, Kuznetsova improved as the week progressed as she prevented herself from making slow starts to the match. The rain-plagued tournament saw the Russian play her third round match and the quarterfinal match with just two hours separating both tournaments, but she still managed to handle it well and defeated Kristina Mladenovic in three sets before putting up a tough fight against Karolina Pliskova. Despite so, Kuznetsova lost a 4-1 40-30* lead in the final set and eventually gifted the victory to the hard-hitting Czech as she lost five consecutive games to lose the match.

Svetlana Kuznetsova in action at the recent Aegon International | Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images Europe
Svetlana Kuznetsova in action at the recent Aegon International | Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images Europe

Best Wimbledon Results

Svetlana Kuznetsova has reached the quarterfinals at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club for a total of just three times in her career considering it is not her best surface, including in her first ever main draw appearance back in 2003.

Last year, Kuznetsova made the second week in London for the first time since 2008, losing to eventual champion Serena Williams, who eventually won her record-breaking 23rd Grand Slam title, in a one-sided match. Defeating current world number six Caroline Wozniacki in a blockbuster first-round match, the Russian followed up with three-set victories to reach the second week after outlasting Sloane Stephens in their third round match, eventually prevailing with an 8-6 scoreline in the final set. Despite serving for the set at 5-4 and looked poised for an upset win over Serena Williams, Kuznetsova went on a rout and proceeded to lose nine consecutive games to be outclassed in straight sets.

Svetlana Kuznetsova in action at the Wimbledon Championships last year | Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images Europe
Svetlana Kuznetsova in action at the Wimbledon Championships last year | Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images Europe

The grass is not Kuznetsova’s best surface, and it is reflected in her career statistics when she only managed to win one title on this surface throughout her eventful career. The solitary triumph came all the way back in 2004 against Daniela Hantuchova at the Aegon Classic in Birmingham.

How Kuznetsova’s game translates to the surface

The low bounce on grass would prove to be a huge challenge to Kuznetsova, but her excellent movement around the court could benefit her largely. Being described as one of the few players with the most complete game on the WTA tour, the Russian has a powerful backhand to utilize during her matches. On a fast surface like grass, the two-time Grand Slam champion would aim to dictate play throughout the rallies especially with the amount of topspin she adds to her groundstrokes.

Claimed to be an all-round player, Kuznetsova is able to come up with a variety of shots to catch her opponents off-guard, and her style of play allows her to adjust the spin and power on her shots, being effective against defensive players. Being a former world number three in doubles, Kuznetsova possesses some great hands at the net and should be able to easily finish off points with volley winners. Serving is also crucial for Kuznetsova as she usually attempts to use the kick on her second serve, forcing her opponents to return the serve at an awkward position, which could be really effective on grass.

Svetlana Kuznetsova plays a forehand against Sloane Stephens last year | Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images Europe
Svetlana Kuznetsova plays a forehand against Sloane Stephens last year | Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images Europe

All in all, Kuznetsova’s biggest challenge is herself. Having some frail mentality and unable to handle pressure at the clutch moments, the Russian often fails to find breakthroughs because of nervous play and is very inconsistent. However, if she were to play her best tennis, she is definitely a contender for the title with a favorable draw in place.