On Friday, September 18, the first racket of Ukraine Elina Svitolina (No. 6 WTA) will play the 1/8 finals duel at the Premier 5 clay tournament in Rome. In the third round match, the Ukrainian will fight against the two-time champion of the Grand Slam tournaments Svetlana Kuznetsova from Russia (# 38 WTA). The match will take place with the first launch of the evening session, no earlier than 20:00 Kyiv time .
Winning this match should bring one of the tennis players € 18,555 in prize money and 85 points to the WTA rankings, in addition to the € 19,355 and 105 points already earned. Last year, tennis players did not score points at this tournament, so even according to the new rules, they are already in the black.
Kuznetsova is an expert in playing on clay courts, since childhood she trained in Spain, where she developed as a successful athlete. She won her first “Helmet” 16 years ago on the courts of the US Open, and a little less than 5 years later she managed to conquer Roland Garros. In this interval, there were still two finals at the same Majors. Now the Russian woman is 35 years old, but she continues to perform successfully, sometimes showing very good results.
True, for the last two years it has been a little more difficult to do this, the ex-second racket of the world missed the start of the 2019 season due to hand and knee injuries, after which it gained momentum for a very long time. Fully managed to return to Cincinnati, where last year she lost in the final to the American Madison Keys. This season, her biggest success was reaching the semifinals at the Premiere in Qatar with the defeat of future champion Arina Sobolenko.
The Russian woman started after the resumption of the season unsuccessfully, losing to the Canadian Bouchard, who decided to remember that she was still a tennis player, reaching the final at the competition in Istanbul. The match was three sets and the more experienced athlete ran out of fuel earlier.
Kuznetsova in the first rounds of Rome outplayed two attacking tennis players, who cannot be called fans of slow coatings, twice the Russian woman managed to put the squeeze on her opponents after losing the first game.
Matches against each other
The girls have played four times before (all – on hard), Svitolina won three times. The only loss took place in Moscow at the infamous 2016 Kremlin Cup, where Elina was threatened before the semifinal match against the Russian woman. The Ukrainian then lost, quarreled with the organizers and did not play at this tournament for two years. Although her decision to break this tradition last year raised even more questions. The remaining three head-to-head matches ended with confident victories of the Ukrainian in two sets.
Stylistically, Kuznetsova is a fairly convenient rival for a Ukrainian. She does not have a strong serve and advantage in the power of strikes, and the best years of the Russian woman are already behind. But there is tremendous experience and an advantage in the technical arsenal of a clay game. She defeated her previous rivals due to competent tactics, gradually exhausting and leveling their advantage in power. It will be extremely difficult to do something like this with Svitolina if Elina is well-tuned for this fight. In the first match, the Ukrainians had some problems with serving, I would very much like this component to gradually improve.