CINCINNATI, OH, USA - Wildcard Svetlana Kuznetsova is through to the Western & Southern Open semifinals for the first time in her career - and she’s done it in stunning fashion, coming back from behind to oust No.3 seed Karolina Pliskova to win, 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-3.
“It's crazy! It's crazy,” Kuznetsova told press after the win. “But I promised myself that I gonna take it differently. This is what works for me. I take the losses the same as the wins.
“So, like, kind of if I give everything out there, so I go out the court and just be happy, because it's everything goes with tennis.”
Kuznetsova came into the tournament looking for matches after spending the first half of the season nursing a knee injury. She kicked off her US Open Series at the Rogers Cup after visa issues kept her out of Washington DC - where she was the defending champion.
But she turned heads with a third-round run in Toronto, and has kept the momentum going in Cincinnati, playing vintage quality tennis to reach her first semifinal at a Premier-level tournament since 2017 Madrid.
After narrowly dropping the first set to Pliskova, Kuznetsova found herself down a break in the second with her opponent serving for the match at 5-4. But with her back against the wall, Kuznetsova mounted an improbable comeback to break Pliskova for the first time and level the score at 5-5. The pair marched into a tiebreaker, where the Russian player was in complete control allowing Pliskova just two points en route to claiming the second set.
Growing in confidence, Kuznetsova applied the pressure to Pliskova and was again rewarded with a break for an early 2-1 lead. She had to fend off four break points across two games as Pliskova tried to claw her way back - but the Russian held firm and, leading 5-3 in the third, broke Pliskova once more to book her spot in the semifinals.
The two-time Grand Slam winner Kuznetsova struck 30 winners and six aces, breaking the big-serving Pliskova three times to claim the victory after a grueling two hours and 23 minutes under the Cincinnati sun.
It’s also her third three-setter from four matches played in the tournament, and her fourth tiebreak set so far.
“Each match I [won], so with [Anastasija] Sevastova first round, with [Dayana] Yastremska, with Sloane [Stephens] was a little bit more easier, I just hang in there,” Kuznetsova reflected. “I guess it was good to have some time off, because I have been missing.
“Now I don't know. I think I'm just matured and I just trying to play point by point.”
Up next, Kuznetsova will take on top seed Ashleigh Barty in the next round as she seeks a spot in the final. Barty turned around a set deficit to defeat Maria Sakkari 5-7, 6-2, 6-0 earlier in the day to advance.
“She's great player,” Kuznetsova said. “I never play her in the matches. I practice her but way before. I think it's going to be so different matchup. I think she's really interesting player, like, she combines different styles and very interesting games.
“It's going to be really another test for myself. But I just go out there with the same focus to fight every ball and to see what's going on.”