Svetlana Kuznetsova came alive after a slow start to beat Eugenie Bouchard in straight sets in the Portugal Open quarterfinals. How far down was she in the first set?
WTA Staff

OEIRAS, Portugal - Svetlana Kuznetsova just continues to find her feet on clay - the former French Open champion came alive after a slow start to beat Eugenie Bouchard at the Portugal Open, 6-4, 6-1.

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The Plot
It was by far the most intriguing quarterfinal showdown at the International-level stop - Bouchard one of the WTA's most promising rising stars, arguably the new generation's leader, while Kuznetsova is one of the most established veterans out there with a legendary career, including a pair of Grand Slams at the 2004 US Open and 2009 French Open and a career-high ranking of No.2, first set back in 2007.

There was something even more special - this would be the pair's very first head-to-head meeting.

The Turning Point
And there was a big one. The No.2-seeded Bouchard came out swinging like she was the favorite, digging out a few tough games but eventually finding herself up 4-1. But the No.7-seeded Kuznetsova flipped the script completely from there, reeling off 11 of the next 12 games to run away with it, and late in the match she was barely losing points anymore - she won four games in a row to close it out, losing a total of just six points in those games. She held at 15 then broke at 15 to close the match out.

Kuznetsova is now through to her first WTA semifinal of the year, and after going 2-4 on hardcourts, she is now 5-1 since stepping onto clay - she also made the quarterfinals of Stuttgart last week.

By The Numbers
Kuznetsova served bigger - she not only had a higher first serve percentage than Bouchard, 61% to 46%, but she also won more points on that first serve, 69% to 52%. She was also far better on her second serve, winning 67% of those points (compared to 46% for Bouchard). They each had one ace.

Break points also told a clear story. Up until that turning point at 4-1 in the opening set, Bouchard was 1/1 on break points and Kuznetsova 0/4 - after that, Bouchard was 0/0 and Kuznetsova was 5/11.

"She was consistent, but aggressive when she had to be," Bouchard said. "I tried to play my game and stay aggressive, but I kind of made a few too many errors. I missed a few important chances out there.

"But it's all part of the process. Getting matches in on the red clay is a really good thing for me, so it's been a good week for me. The more matches I play the better so I'm looking forward to more."

"It took me a little bit of time to get used to this court, because it's much slower than the court I played on yesterday," Kuznetsova said. "It was very even games early on too - but I started hitting more spin, running more and putting more balls back, and I played better and better as the match went on.

"I prepared well for this year but got injured a couple of times and lost early, but on clay my game's getting together again. It's nice to see my work paying off right now and I hope to keep playing well."