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Kuznetsova claims 2009 French Open crown

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:34

Svetlena Kuznetsova upset fellow Russian Dinara Safina to lift the 2009 French Open crown 6-4 6-2 in what was, in truth, a disappointing Grand Slam final.

The world No.7, who despite an impressive clay court season was regarded as the underdog against the world No.1, now has two Grand Slam titles to her name, adding her Roland Garros title to the US Open victory sealed back in 2004.

Kuznetsova produced the greater variety against her compatriot and friend – and fully deserved her victory – but it was impossible to ignore the fact that Safina had crumbled in the final of a Grand Slam for the third time in her career.

The world No.1 looked a shadow of the player that had won 20 of her 21 matches on clay in 2009, in a performance reminiscent of her displays in last year’s final against Ana Ivanovic, and this year’s Australian Open final against Serena Williams.

“When I came on court today I knew everything would be alright – I knew I would win today” – Kuznetsova

It had all started so well for the top seed, who actually broke Kuznetsova’s serve in the opening game but from there is was all downhill. Kuznetsova immediately broke back and set about building a lead, mixing up her game with drop shots and the occasional foray to the net to unsettle the more one-dimensional Safina.

Kuznetsova failed to serve out the set at 5-3, but bounced back to outhit Safina in the following game and take the opening set.

Safina had thrown in too many double faults in the opener but looked to be hanging in there as the second set began – but in game six Safina, serving, produced four straight errors to hand Kuznetsova another break of serve.

The No.7 seed had struggled to close out her quarter-final and semi-final matches, but on this occasion Safina was simply not playing well enough to cause her any problems. Almost poetically, the match ended with a Safina double fault.

Kuznetsova, magnanimous in victory, commiserated with her compatriot at the net before climbing through the stands to begin the real celebrations with her supporters.

“It’s a really special moment for me,” she said during the presentation ceremony. “It’s been a very long wait for me and this has always been my favourite tournament. I’m just so happy to finally get my hands on the trophy.

“When I came on court today I knew everything would be alright. I felt just like I did at the US Open and knew I would win today.”

“She’s a better player than me at the moment and that is why she’s No.1,” said Kuznetsova when asked about Safina’s performance. “I think she was just too tired today but she will be back.

“Today I think she was too tight. She had so much pressure on her but I could bring my better game today – that’s why I won.”

Others, though, may not be so kind. Having lost last year’s Paris final and this year’s Australian Open title decider, Safina remains without a Grand Slam title, and doubts remain about the validity of her status as world No.1.

“I’m back in the same situation as last year,” said a dejected Safina during the trophy ceremony after the match. “Hopefully, one day I can win here,” she added, her voice cracking. The loss ended her 16-match winning streak that began not long after becoming world No.1.

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