MADRID, Spain - Former finalist Svetlana Kuznetsova returned to the last eight at the Mutua Madrid Open on Wednesday, ending the run of qualifier Wang Qiang in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5.
Kuznetsova rallied from a break down in each set en route to the 90-minute victory.
"Each set I was a break down," Kuznetsova said. "I mean, to me, as I said to my coach, I was just with her in a chat right now. I said, 'Look, it was kind of important match. It's huge event. It's third round.' I know she's been great and she plays good and everything. m happy I made it through
Both players had a battle in their previous round to set up their round of 16 encounter; Kuznetsova saved match points to defeat American Alison Riske, while Wang edged a three-setter against compatriot Zheng Saisai as well.
"The match against Riske, I was positive mentally. I really like how I change things around," Kuznetsova said. "I was a little bit, like, slow, a bit conservative, tight in the first set. Then the second, I saw that if I wouldn't change it, if I wouldn't raise my game, step up, I wouldn't be having chance to win. I had to do it, so this helped me for today's match, as well."
Wang, making her Madrid debut this week, started the brighter of the two players in each set, holding a pair of service games at love and breaking serve in each fifth game to lead 3-2.
In the opener, she immediately surrendered her advantage, as Kuznetsova broke to even proceedings at 3-3, and earned the set in the 10th game on her third set point.
Wang held on to her break advantage to begin the second set, building a 4-2 lead behind a trio of love holds. Nonetheless, Kuznetsova won her first point on the qualifier's serve in the set in the eighth came, and converted on her fourth to get the match back on serve.
The Russian's momentum continued as she held at love, and though Wang extended the set to 5-5 after grinding out a hold of her own, Kuznetsova ensured herself a straight sets victory with a break in the final game.
"I feel like with confidence, I know when to step in, and still have a chance," Kuznetsova said. "I'm confident I can make it. It changes a lot. Many balls which I would miss or which could turn around [my game] before, now doesn't do it to me. I still know I can get it. It does really help a lot."