Williams overcomes heat to go through
Originally published on: 26/02/10 12:16
The match began in intense heat with temperatures hitting 40 degrees Celsius. Kuznetsova, the eight seed, won the opening set and appeared to be getting on top of the American second seed who looked far from comfortable in the unpleasant conditions.
The momentum shifted though when the Rod Laver Arena roof was closed due to the implementation of the extreme heat policy and Williams returned to court to complete a come-from-behind win.
As in her previous match with Victoria Azarenka, Williams’ serving let her down repeatedly in the first set, allowing Kuznetsova to dominate the exchanges in the American second seeds’ service games. Williams only got 50 percent of her first serves in, in contrast to the 73 percent by Kuznetsova.
The first two games of the opening set went with serve before Kuznetsova broke in the third game. But her advantage was short-lived as the three-time Australian Open champion broke back immediately when Kuznetsova fired a return long to get the game back on serve.
The status quo remained until the ninth game when a superb passing shot – the second in successive games – left Williams floundering and she handed the game to her opponent with two further errors off her backhand. But again Kuznetsova failed to make the most of her opportunity, allowing Williams to break back to level things 5-5 before the Russian took control, breaking Williams again then holding serve to take it 7-5.
With the extreme heat policy brought into affect at 1.45pm local time at Melbourne Park, play was then suspended and the roof on Rod Laver Arena was closed. When the players returned Williams looked far more poised and her serve improved noticeably.
The set went with serve until the seventh game when Kuznetsova got the breakthrough and she kept the advantage until the 10th game when, serving for the match, a mixture of unforced errors by the Russian and a superb winner down the line by Williams allowed her opponent to get back on level terms. Williams held her next service game then turned up the heat on the number eight seed and two huge forehand returns brought the American the break at the second set 7-5.
Williams carried that momentum into the third-set decider and broke Kuznetsova in the fourth game, as the Russian began to look less and less assured. The nine-time grand slam winner broke her opponent again for a 5-1 lead and from there she successfully served out the match.