After a three-set tussle against Marketa Vondrousova in the previous round which lasted two hours and 31 minutes, Svetlana Kuznetsova entered the second round of the US Open without an extra day of rest and immediately had to face the dangerous Kurumi Nara, who strolled to a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Sara Sorribes Tormo in the opening round.
The Russian was visibly physically-drained and seemed to be affected by a left wrist injury which already bothered her yesterday, eventually falling to an inspired Nara, who did not make many mistakes throughout the match, in three sets lasting over two hours. This is Nara’s biggest win of her career, with Kuznetsova being her first ever top-10 victory. After the match, Kuznetsova was revealed to have a swollen left wrist and she will have to go for an MRI scan the next day.
Nara takes the opening set over the drained Kuznetsova
Kuznetsova earned a break point in the opening game but she failed to convert as Nara was just simply too solid at the baseline, utilizing her powerful and consistent groundstrokes to dictate play against the tired Russian. Unexpectedly, Kuznetsova rattled off eight of the next 10 points as she displayed some clinical aggressive tennis to take the early lead.
However, Nara was quick to fight back as she saved a couple of game points to return level immediately. Unforced errors proved to be costly for Kuznetsova as she lost her fourth straight game, allowing the Japanese to be just a game away from winning the first set. Though she managed to capture a consolation game, it still was not enough to beat the solid Nara as the underdog successfully served out the first set 6-3 after 40 minutes of play.
Kuznetsova fights back
The veteran made an improved start to the second set as she comfortably held her serve in the opening game before breaking serve for a 2-0 lead with some solid tennis, forcing the errors out of Nara. However, Kuznetsova was unable to hold onto her lead as she was broken in the next game, with the Japanese exposing the vulnerability of her second serves.
Nonetheless, the Russian soon powered herself to a 4-1 lead, with her forehand looking in top form. Once again, Nara returned on serve but this time Kuznetsova was able to regain the lead right at the eleventh hour, breaking serve in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead before comfortably serving out the set 6-3 to level the match.
Nara closes out the huge upset
Kuznetsova took the break in the opening game of the final set, looking poised for the victory. However, Nara was determined to get the biggest win of her career as she broke straight back and kept the scores tight, with the Russian starting to look very tired. From the fourth game onwards, it was just one-way traffic for the Japanese as she rattled off three consecutive games to be closer than ever to the win.
An improbable comeback looked to be possible when Kuznetsova held her serve and even earned a break point but Nara stood firm and overcame all her nerves to eventually serve out the win after two hours and seven minutes.