It was a thriller played in the quarterfinals of the Western and Southern Open as Garbine Muguruza and Svetlana Kuznetsova gave their all in this 2 hours and 48 minutes marathon, with the Spaniard eventually triumphing with a 6-2 5-7 7-5 scoreline. Kuznetsova was originally down 2-6 0-2 and was looking down-and-out, but she stepped up her play as the match progressed, and put up a spirited performance which saw her dominate play in the final set. However, it still was not enough for her to get her first win over Muguruza since 2015.
Muguruza clinches the first set 6-2, winning all the close games
Kuznetsova made a very poor start to the match as she was very inconsistent on her serves, allowing Muguruza to break serve in the opening game to take the early lead. The Spaniard then survived her first service game in a marathon after fending off two break points to consolidate the break, claiming the 20-points game in more than 10 minutes.
Kuznetsova’s woes continued to plague her as her unusual slow movement around the court proved to be costly, gifting Muguruza her second consecutive break and a double-break advantage. The Russian finally got herself onto the scoreboard as this time, she prevailed in yet another lengthy Muguruza service game, converting her first break point of the match as she lessened the deficit.
Kuznetsova finally had her first service hold of the day, keeping herself just one game behind her higher-ranked opponent. For the third straight time, the world number six struggled with her serves and allowed Kuznetsova to almost break straight back.
Nevertheless, Muguruza came up with some strong serves at the crucial moments, surviving yet another marathon game as she saved a total of four break points to hold onto her lead. It was just one-way traffic from then on as Muguruza rattled off eight of the next nine points to clinch the first set 6-2 after a marathon 54 minutes of play.
Kuznetsova recovers from early deficit to steal the second set 7-5
Kuznetsova’s woes continued at the start of the second set as she lost a 30-0 lead on her serve after committing an overwhelming amount of unforced errors, allowing Muguruza to take the early lead in the set. Everything seemed to be going right for the Spaniard when she easily consolidated the break as she held her serve to 15, leading by a set and a break and looking to stroll towards her fifth consecutive win over the Russian.
Kuznetsova was in great danger in the next game, with Muguruza being able to get to deuce and threatened to earn the double break. Nonetheless, Kuznetsova was able to dictate play and save herself from the brink, winning her first game of the second set to keep herself in contention for the win.
Muguruza remained focused and solid, holding her serve to love for a 3-1 lead. The turning point of the set came at that moment as the Russian held her serve before finally breaking back with the help of several unforced errors, leveling the scores out of nowhere.
It was an exchange of service breaks which followed as both players started to be erratic and failed to find their first serves, but eventually, the set seemed to be heading towards a tie-break. However, Kuznetsova put up a clinical baseline performance as she came out of nowhere to seal the second set 7-5, throwing in a big forehand return winner on set point to level the score at one set all.
Muguruza comes out of nowhere to seal the impressive victory
Similar to the second set, it was a poor start to the decider for Kuznetsova as she failed to handle the formidable net game of Muguruza, who increased her frequency of coming up to the net during the rallies. The tactic worked as the Russian was often limited at the baseline and playing at an uncomfortable position, causing her go down a break in the opening game. Unexpectedly, Kuznetsova came from 30-0 down to break straight back and level the scores with the help of some powerful groundstrokes.
The Russian seemed to be headed towards the win when she earned a break point in the fourth game but she threw in a forehand error, clearing the path for Muguruza to narrowly hold her serve. Kuznetsova seemed to be dominating play against a faltering Muguruza but she was often just unable to make any impact in her return games.
Unexpectedly, it was the Spaniard who almost made the next breakthrough as she earned a break point in the ninth game. However, Kuznetsova was just too consistent on her backhand and she hit an incredible backhand down-the-line winner to save the break point and eventually hold serve. It was once again the Spaniard who seemed to have stepped up her play as she earned three break points at 5-5. Kuznetsova lost a 40-15 lead but managed to save a couple of them with some incredible aggressive play.
It was third time lucky for the Spaniard as the Russian sent a backhand slice wide, allowing Muguruza to have the golden opportunity to serve out the match. Comfortably powering herself to a 40-0 lead while serving out the match, Muguruza lost her focus as Kuznetsova stormed back to deuce as she won an incredible point at 40-30, closing out the point with a volley winner. However, it was still not enough as Muguruza put in some powerful groundstrokes to finally clinch the win after a marathon 2 hours and 48 minutes of play.