For the first time in seven years, Caroline Wozniacki will play in the quarterfinals of the French Open after defeating Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.
The former World No.1 hadn’t reached the second week in Paris since reaching the last eight as a 19-year-old in 2010.
Both players struck 26 winners in the match, which lasted just a minute over two hours, but it was Wozniacki’s composed consistency that won out on the day. The Dane broke even in the match with 26 unforced errors, while Kuznetsova struggled to land her targets, and struck a total of 41 in three sets.
Though they were playing for the 14th time overall and for the third time in the last four Grand Slams, Wozniacki and Kuznetsova had never before contested a match against each other on clay.
After a marathon first two games that took over 15 minutes, it was the former World No.1 who had the answer to everything the former French Open champion threw at her, as Wozniacki won the last five games in commanding fashion to take a one-set lead.
Wozniacki’s run extended to six straight games as she broke to open the second set, but Kuznetsova hit back immediately to level the match, and took her first lead with a hold of serve in the next game. From there, neither player had a look at a break point chance until the Russian created an opportunity at 3-4, but duly needed her next in the following Wozniacki service game to tie the match at one set all.
The Russian cleaned up her tennis in the second set, balancing 11 winners to 11 unforced errors, after struggling to four winners and 16 unforced errors in the opening set.
“I think when I was playing the game I should play it was bringing me success. Caroline was defending very good today and playing very deep, close to the lines,” Kuznetsova assessed. “I felt like I lost my chances. I had many opportunities, many deuce games in the first set. [In the] second set I played better. I could have broke her earlier, but I did it at 6-4. Then in the third set, it was couple key moments [that decided the match].”
However, Wozniacki rebounded quickly to begin the decider, quickly sprinting out to a 3-0 lead after winning the trio of games to 30. Kuznetsova got one of the breaks back and held at love to close to within 3-2, before earning a break point to get the set back on serve as her momentum built.
Said Kuznetsova: “I miss[ed] an easy volley on deuce on my serve, and she broke me, then I was 3-love down. It was very difficult to play then when it was against the wind for both of us. Then I came back. It was 3-2, break point, to make it 3-all and serve. There I missed it a little bit, and Caroline was playing good, consistent. I was missing a little bit too much.”
That proved to be the Russian’s last stand in the decider, as Wozniacki rolled to the final three games and the last 11 points of the match.
“It was definitely a good win,” said Wozniacki. “Svetlana obviously plays really well on this surface. I knew it was going to be a tough match going in.
“I started off really, really well. My game plan was working and it kind of kept her on her toes with some dropshots and mixing up the pace. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I knew that she was going to try to fight her way back. She did in the second set, but I managed to close it off in three, which I’m happy about.”
Wozniacki also reflected on a strong start to the season that has seen her rise up the WTA rankings. “I have felt good all year,” she said. “I have been playing well and confidently. I felt pretty good going into the tournament. Obviously it’s just kind of clicking this week. Hopefully I can keep going this way.”