Kuznetsova craving simplicity in hardcourt comeback: ‘I feel more mature on the court’

CINCINNATI, USA – Svetlana Kuznetsova credits a new perspective, a return to simplicity, and improved maturity for her strong return to the tour after a lengthy battle with wrist and knee injuries. Now ranked No.154, the two-time major champion and former World No.2, returned to North American hardcourts last week in Toronto, just her third event since early May. 

After getting her visa approved in the 11th hour, Kuznetsova hit the pavement in Toronto and scored two solid wins, including a straight-set victory over Donna Vekic, before losing to Simona Halep. This week, after defeating Anastasija Sevastova, Dayana Yastremska, and Sloane Stephens at the Western & Southern Open, the 34-year-old Russian is now into her first hardcourt quarterfinal since winning the 2018 Citi Open.

“I’m pretty happy,” Kuznetsova said. “I didn’t expect to play so well so fast back. 

“Before this trip I was waiting for my visa. I was waiting for three weeks at home training. I had a program that [coach] Carlos Martinez gave to me. I was trying to follow the program. It’s a really different experience for me because I always had a coach and now it changes. 

“You have to mature, you have to take this responsibility. Other players, and maybe me, would pay anything for someone to come over and do it. But I believe tennis makes me mature and makes me do different things and makes me better. 

“It’s not just about the result, it’s how I am and how I start to take responsibility. I feel it on the court as well.” 

It’s been a tough 12 months for Kuznetsova, who was forced to skip the early start of the season due to wrist injury, and then struggled with a knee injury before finally starting her season on clay in April. She would go on to compile a 5-7 record through the clay and grass season.

“I’ve been changing coaches, I’ve been struggling in different things outside of the court,” Kuznetsova said. “I couldn’t get it all together for a very long time. I had some injuries. I had different issues, a lot of issues.

“So now, finally, it looks like I’m really in my spot. I’m really happy to train and be on the court.”

“I heard on the court — now it’s what? 2019? So I turned pro when it was 2000. So basically I’ve played for as much as was my age when I won the US Open. For these 19 years, so many things have been [happening] and you cannot stay all the time 100% professional.

“So now I’m 34, and sometimes I don’t have so much will to travel and be away from home.