Kuznetsova's French Open Memories
Published May 21, 2014 12:13
Considering she spent most of her teenage years in Spain, it is no surprise that Svetlana Kuznetsova has such a strong affinity to clay court tennis.
The countless hours spent honing her trade at the Sánchez-Casal Academy in Barcelona have reaped considerable dividends, with the Russian earning a reputation as one of her generation's finest dirtballers.
Many of her best moments have come during the clay court season's signature event, the French Open, where Kuznetsova reached a quarterfinal, semifinal and final before lifting the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen, in 2009.
During her run to title, Kuznetsova took part in two of the tournament's best matches in recent times, and five years on the memories of those epic battles with Serena Williams and Samantha Stosur are still fresh in her mind.
"The French Open is the best. The quality of the courts is unbelievable and I've had so many good moments there.
"When I won the French Open, the match with Serena was an amazing match - I think one of the best of my career," Kuznetsova said. "Then the semifinal with Sam Stosur was also an unbelievable match. And then the last piece in the jigsaw was the final against Dinara, so I have to choose that as the best.
"In comparison to those three, I don't really remember many of the other matches I've played!"
Since that memorable fortnight, the 28-year-old has struggled to scale the same heights, a succession of injuries seeing her slip down the rankings. However, she has continued to find sanctuary on the clay, which has brought positive results - she reached last year's French Open quarterfinals and recently finished runner-up in Oeiras - as well as a respite for her ailing limbs.
"They're slower, so you have to have a lot of patience, but you can slide and you can hit a lot of topspin, which suits my game a lot," she added. "I think they're also better for your body; you don't get injured and you'll get physically fitter.
"The only bad thing about clay: dirty socks, dirty clothes! But they are the only bad things. The rest are positive."