NEW YORK, NY, USA - No.8 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova kept her outside bid for WTA World No.1 alive with a 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(2) thriller over Marketa Vondrousova, saving three match points to reach the second round at the US Open.
"I think it was crazy," Kuznetsova said after the match. "Yesterday, I was in the locker room talking to Andrea Petkovic, saying how I'd played Naomi Osaka in China last year. I won, facing match points.
"She said, 'Yeah, you always have these kind of matches. I'm like, 'No, no, no. I just had this one.' She said, 'No, Riske, this year.' I said, 'Yeah, but that's it.'
"It's typical. When these talks happen, that's when it happens to you."
Kuznetsova won her maiden major title in New York as a teenager in 2004, and is one of seven women who could leave the fortnight atop the WTA rankings, though she would have to win the title a second time to have a shot.
In an ironic twist, the first match of her 2017 campaign came against the sort of tenacious teens she used to be in Vondrousova.
The Czech youngster burst onto the scene in the spring when she captured the inaugural Ladies Open Biel Bienne, taking that momentum into the French Open where she qualified for her first Grand Slam main draw.
"She has lots of potential, but lots of work ahead of her. Only time will tell us how it will go through because there is so many girls with potential who can do well, and only few become champions. So there's a lot of work ahead."
Playing on Grandstand after their scheduled match was rained out on Tuesday, Vondrousova twice recovered from an early break to grab the first set from Kuznetsova, who was coming off a solid run to the quarterfinals of the Western & Southern Open after reaching her the last eight at Wimbledon for the first time in a decade.
The Russian veteran relied on that experience to level the match and save a trio of match points - two in a row at 15-40 - in the tenth game of the decider. Though Vondrousova forced a final set tie-break, Kuznetsova proved too strong by that stage and sealed the sudden death after two hours and 31 minutes on court.
Up next for the former World No.2 is either Kurumi Nara or Sara Sorribes Tormo, whom she'll take on without a day's rest due to the canceled matches on Tuesday.
"Yesterday was not so long for me. I was so relaxed. I came to the locker room and I slept a couple hours. When I woke up, it still was raining. Then they canceled the matches. I went to do some workout in the gym, and headed back to the hotel.
"Today was a very long, very physically tough match. This is going to be only one issue for tomorrow. But I didn't feel like that tired. I felt more nerves, which got my body tired and tense, but I don't feel physically tired. So I'm looking forward. I will see for tomorrow, but I'll try to relax as much as I can."