Svetlana Kuznetsova got past a tricky opening round opponent at the Western and Southern Open as she eased past Yulia Putintseva in the second round having received a bye, strolling to the victory after just 81 minutes of play in straight sets. Despite a mid-match wobble, Kuznetsova was relatively solid throughout the match and she was able to dictate play in most of the rallies, playing some impressive tennis.
Kuznetsova overcomes late wobble to clinch the first set
With some solid serving in the opening game, Kuznetsova made the perfect start as she held her serve to start the match with. Dictating play with her powerful groundstrokes, particularly on her forehand side, the Russian followed it up with the first break of serve in the match, opening an early 2-0 lead.
Putintseva had the golden opportunity to break back after owning a 15-30 lead on her higher-ranked opponent’s serve, but the veteran was simply just too good in her baseline game as she consolidated the break for a formidable 3-0 lead. Putintseva’s sloppy defensive work continued to plague her as she soon trailed by a double break, which Kuznetsova easily consolidated for a 5-0 lead.
Being one game away from closing out the first set, the Russian’s old habit came back to haunt her as she lost her focus momentarily, allowing Putintseva to get one of the breaks back and also saved two break points on her way to closing the deficit to just a mere two games.
Kuznetsova was third time lucky when she finally sealed the first set 6-3 on her serve after 39 minutes of play, preventing Putintseva from producing the miraculous comeback. Kuznetsova lost just a mere four points behind her solid and consistent first serves throughout the first set but was relatively poor behind her second serves after winning just 33 percent of points off them.
Kuznetsova recovers from early deficit to get the win
Kuznetsova carried over the momentum into the second set as the Russian was just clinical on her backhand, taking the break in the opening game, looking certain for the victory. Unexpectedly, Putintseva broke straight back as Kuznetsova started to commit a couple of unforced errors, allowing the Kazakh to produce the perfect response.
There was more to the plot when Putintseva started going on her run, clinching her third straight game to take the lead for the first time in the match as the world number eight threw in double faults at the crucial moments.
Nevertheless, Kuznetsova rattled eight of the next nine points and returned level on the scoreboard all of a sudden. After an exchange of service holds, it was the two-time Grand Slam champion who made the next breakthrough as Putintseva was unable to handle the powerful returns of Kuznetsova, who broke serve for a 5-4 lead and earned the golden opportunity to serve out the match.
Not disappointing her fans, the Russian successfully served out the match to 30, blasting a powerful backhand down-the-line winner on match point to seal the win after 1 hour and 21 minutes of play.