Svetlana Kuznetsova and Magdalena Rybarikova posted early straight-sets victories on Saturday to advance to the fourth round.
WTA Staff

LONDON, Great Britain - No.7 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova made her way into the second week of a Slam for the 32nd time in her career with a 65-minute 6-4, 6-0 trouncing of qualifier Polona Hercog; minutes later, unseeded Magdalena Rybarikova advanced to the fourth-round for the very first time with a similarly emphatic 6-2, 6-1 beating of Lesia Tsurenko.

It was Kuznetsova who started small against an opponent playing just the second Slam third round of her career, and her first since Roland Garros 2010. The Russian found herself dragged around the court by her Slovenian rival's backhand, alternately sliced and driven, while Hercog threw in a few lessons in dropshots to keep Kuznetsova off-balance.

Svetlana Kuznetsova shows her determination in returning a forehand (Getty)
Svetlana Kuznetsova shows her determination in returning a forehand (Getty)

Avoiding the No.7 seed's famed forehand, the World No.265 took advantage of Kuznetsova's reluctance to hit through her backhand to hold a break point for a 4-2 lead - but after a thrilling exchange, sent her own backhand just wide. Though Hercog held firm to save two break points against her in the subsequent game, her window of opportunity was snapping shut quickly. From 4-4, 30-30, the experienced Russian upped her intensity to win 20 of the next 22 points, including the first 10 of the second set.

Polona Hercog lets her frustration out against Svetlana Kuznetsova (Getty)
Polona Hercog lets her frustration out against Svetlana Kuznetsova (Getty)

By now, Hercog's backhand - so effective in the opening stages - was crumbling as she began to find the net with too many groundstrokes. The 26-year-old's winner count dropped from 13 to just two; meanwhile, Kuznetsova, able to find her forehand once more, began dominating, peppering the lines as she fired nine winners to just three unforced errors. In the final game, the 32-year-old needed five match points to send Hercog into the abyss, but ultimately inflicted a bagel set to move through to a fourth-round against either No.9 seed Agnieszka Radwanska or No.19 seed Timea Bacsinszky.

Over on Court 18, meanwhile, Rybarikova was wrapping up a similarly one-sided victory over fellow unseeded player Lesia Tsurenko. A 40-minute first set was characterized by the World No.35's inability to take key points in deuce games: Tsurenko lost three games after holding multiple points to win them, spurning 12 game points in total and converting just one of five break points.

The Slovak, on her way back from wrist and knee surgeries and buoyed by a 15-1 grass-court record over the past month that had culminated in her upset of Karolina Pliskova on Thursday, was also continuing to showcase the free-flowing, utterly unique grass-court game that had confounded the Czech in the second round.

En route to her first break of the match, Rybarikova reprised a point that had won her accolades two days ago, darting around the court to retrieve and redirect everything Tsurenko threw at her before finishing with a spontaneous net foray. Time and again, she was able to dink passes past her increasingly frustrated Ukrainian opponent.

Though Tsurenko managed to break the World No.87 in the first game of the second set, Rybarikova was not to be denied. The 2006 Wimbledon girls' runner-up reeled off the final six games of the match for the loss of just five more points as Tsurenko racked up 23 unforced errors in total. For many years, Rybarikova - Birmingham champion in 2009 - has been considered a grass-court specialist who has underperformed at Wimbledon. It's fitting that her belated Slam breakthrough has finally come on the lawns of SW19 - and she'll have a chance to take it even further with a fourth round against either wildcard Zarina Diyas or qualifier Petra Martic.

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