Victorious Kuznetsova fears switch to grass
Monday 08 June 2009
Serena Williams in 2002 was the last woman to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year. The American is likely to keep that record after Svetlana Kuznetsova's 6-4, 6-2 victory here in Paris on Saturday over her fellow Russian, Dinara Safina.
Kuznetsova, claiming her second Grand Slam title following her US Open triumph five years ago, has never gone beyond the quarter-finals at the All England Club and does not sound like a player with any realistic hopes of success on grass this year. "I'm going to try and enjoy Wimbledon," she said. "I don't want to put any pressure on myself. I play great on clay. I can play well on grass, but I haven't done that yet."
Like many players, Kuznetsova struggles with the rapid switch from clay. Having spent the last two months sliding into her shots and enjoying time to hit her ground strokes, the new world No 5 will have just a few days at Eastbourne next week learning to cope with the lower bounces on grass before heading for Wimbledon. "Adjusting is the most difficult thing," Kuznetsova said. "That's why I have to force myself to play at Eastbourne."
The last fortnight has done little to clear the fog at the top of the women's game. Safina remains the world No 1 but was such a bag of nerves in the final that doubts remain as to whether she can make her big breakthrough. It may still happen – Chris Evert also lost her first three finals but went on to won 18 Grand Slam titles – but the Russian has to find the mental strength to match her physical prowess.
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