It was a marquee match - Ivanovic the 2008 French Open champion and a former No.1, Kuznetsova the 2009 French Open champion and a former No.2 - and both had played impressively all week en route to the quarterfinals. But Ivanovic dominated the head-to-head coming in, not only leading the overall head-to-head, 8-3, but leading their head-to-head at WTA events by an even bigger margin, 8-1 (two of Kuznetsova's wins came in Fed Cup play). By history and by ranking, Ivanovic was the favorite.
The Turning Point
The first two sets couldn't have been more different. With two of the best forehands on tour going to battle, it was Ivanovic who played far cleaner early on, winning six of seven games from 2-0 down to take the first set, 6-3. Kuznetsova rebounded very well, though, cruising through the second, 6-2.
It was in the third set where the mental battle really began. For eight games in a row neither player could break - they both had break points, but neither could seal the deal. It was in the ninth game of the third when Ivanovic finally pounced, breaking for 5-4, a chance to serve out the match - and she did.
By The Numbers
While there were definitely streaks of better play from both players, overall Ivanovic was more aggressive and more consistent. She finished the match with a -6 differential of winners to unforced errors (33 to 39) while Kuznetsova finished the match with a more dubious -14 differential (17 to 31).
"It was a very tough match today, great quality though," Ivanovic said. "I felt from the first moment on it was a tough match with long rallies, and she played well - she's improving a lot again. Her ball comes a lot heavier with a lot of spin on the clay, and it was tough to get into the rhythm, but I did it after a few games. The second set was a little bit tough for me but overall I'm happy with how the match went.
"I remember once Sveta and I played 7-6 in the final in Berlin. I think it was 2007. That's one I remember most because I think it was one of my first big titles. That was a very tough match as well."
Next up for Ivanovic is No.5 seed Jelena Jankovic, who beat Alisa Kleybanova later in the day, 64 63 (read more here). Ivanovic leads Jankovic in their head-to-head series, 8-3, and has won their last two meetings in straight sets, but Jankovic did win their last clay court meeting, at Madrid in 2010.