Former champ Kuznetsova sweats out U.S. Open win

Tue Aug 31, 2010 3:29pm EDT
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By Matt Majendie

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova booked her passage into the second round of the U.S. Open with a steamy 6-2 4-6 6-1 victory over Kimiko Date Krumm Tuesday.

But the 25-year-old Russian, who won the tournament in 2004 and reached the final in 2007, was far from convincing during the one-hour, 56-minute match.

Her superior groundstrokes gave her the first set but wayward shot selection combined with some intelligent tactical play from Japan's Date Krumm saw the match go to a final set.

Both players, sweating heavily in the New York midday sun, struggled to find any rhythm on serve in the decider but Kuznetsova was eventually rewarded for the more attacking approach.

"That was a very tough match - she plays a very different game to everyone I've ever played before," said Kuznetsova of her opponent. "I know Dinara Safina lost to her twice and she's uncomfortable to play against.

"But for me it was nice to play her because I can play any type of game and it's fun to do different sorts of things."

Kuznetsova admitted it was too early to judge her form in the tournament but, when asked to look back on her 2004 triumph, she said: "I don't even remember really. Every year is just a new year."

Despite that, there were glimmers that the number 11 seed was returning to her Flushing Meadows form of six years ago in the final games of the match.   Continued...

<p>Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia serves to Kimiko Date Krumm of Japan during the U.S. Open in New York, August 31, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque</p>