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Reigning RG champ sees the bright side

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Originally published on: 19/05/10 10:18

Svetlana Kuznetsova has had a pretty torrid 2010 by her standards. Not only has she scrabbled for victories – she’s managed just five since her fourth round exit at the Australian Open – but she’s struggled with a shoulder injury and relinquished her status as a top five player.

But training at Barcelona’s Sanchez-Casal Academy this week ahead of her return to the scene of her second (and last) Grand Slam triumph, the 24-year-old is optimistic that the pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall back into place.

“I’m looking forward to Roland Garros,” she said in between training for the pinnacle of the clay season. “I’m fine, I’m getting better and it is special to me to do the drills of the academy, come back to Barcelona. This week is going well.”

While memories of her 2009 triumph over Dinara Safina still burn strong, the world No.6 has lost three of the four competitive matches she has contested during the clay swing. For that reason alone, the defending champ is certainly not staking claims for the title as Roland Garros draws ever-nearer.

“There are many good players that can get a good result, matches are even, so you never know who will play well,” she says. “You need to do your best each match in order to avoid a surprise.”

Perhaps a surprise early exit would not be such a surprise – Kuznetsova has been bundled out of five of the nine tournaments she has contested this year by players ranked outside of the top 20.

“For me the first matches will be very important, more than other years,” urges the Russian. “I have not played many matches this season, but winning two matches will give me confidence.”

Cautiously optimistic about her own chances, Kuznetsova was far more forthcoming about picking a champion in the men’s competition.

“I believe that Rafa Nadal is always favourite. In my opinion he is a good example for us. He is always willing to fight and is a player who won many matches for his determination and ambition,” she says, before hastily remembering her fellow defending champion.

“Both Nadal and Federer are favourite for Roland Garros,” she adds, with a grin.

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