Kuznetsova claims glory in French Open
Saturday 06 June 2009
Svetlana Kuznetsova claimed her second grand slam title after capitalising on a host of errors by Dinara Safina in the all-Russian French Open final.
Kuznetsova, the seventh seed, posted a 6-4 6-2 victory on Philippe Chatrier court as top seed Safina was struck by stage fright for the third time in a major final.
She was looking to authenticate her position as world number one by winning a first grand slam but she put in a dreadful display under grey skies in Paris.
A double-fault on match point summed her performance up. Her shoddy serve was broken five times in all and Kuznetsova - the only player to defeat Safina on clay this year - simply feasted on her mistakes.
This title adds to the one Kuznetsova claimed at the US Open in 2004.
She knew she would have to move her less mobile compatriot around the court if she was to have a chance of success today.
But she maybe would not have been expecting Safina's serve to be so off-key.
Safina, runner-up last year too when she lost to Ana Ivanovic, fell 0-30 down in four of her five service games in the first set, and went on to be broken on three of those occasions.
Kuznetsova, playing in her first grand slam final since the US Open in 2007, lost the match's first three points and was broken in the opening game but hit back in the next.
And it was the 23-year-old from St Petersburg who looked the more comfortable on the slower surface, mixing her game up far more effectively than Safina could manage.
The opening set went with serve until game eight, when Safina dropped her serve for the second time after she failed to reach a Kuznetsova cross-court backhand that died quicker than she expected.
Serving for the set, Kuznetsova lost the next game to love but Safina's troubles on her serve continued as her opponent sent down an unreturnable backhand on the first of her two set points.
Safina became even more frustrated with her own misfiring display in the second set.
She steadied herself as far as her serve was concerned but her game from the back of the court was strewn with errors.
Kuznetsova grabbed the key break in the sixth game when Safina lost four points on the spin.
And Safina hit three shots long in a row on the next to leave her opponent on the brink.
The world number one brought up match point when she sent a backhand into the net under no pressure.
Her day was summed up when she double-faulted to hand Kuznetsova glory.
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