All Russian Final as Kuznetsova and Vesnina battle for Indian Wells title
By Ros Satar, in Indian Wells
- Svetlana Kuznetsova  v Elena Vesnina 
- Head to Head: 1-1
INDIAN WELLS, USA – The sun will set on this year’s women’s final with an all Russian clash between Svetlana Kuznetsova and Elena Vesnina.
Svetlana Kuznetsova – Fact File
|Age||31 (27 June 1985)|
|Weight||161 lbs (73kg)|
|Height||5’ 8” (1.74m)|
|Birth-Place||St Petersburg, Russia|
|Plays||Right Handed, Two Handed Backhand|
|Career High (Singles)||2 (10 September 2007)|
|Career Singles Titles||17 (2 Slam titles)|
Kuznetsova’s Path to Final
- R1: BYE
- R2: Johanna Larson 7-6(3) 64
- R3: Roberta Vinci 6-2 2-6 6-1
- R4: Caroline Garcia 6-1 6-4
- QF: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3 6-2
- SF: Karolina Pliskova 7-6(5) 7-6(2)
Svetlana Kuznetsova is no stranger to the final stages of this tournament having reached the finals in 2007, and 2008, but lost both times. Her resurgence towards the end of last year that saw her winning a last ditch pitch to make the WTA Finals in Singapore may have taken its toll on the Russian in the early part of this year as she admitted after her semi-final.
“I didn’t have the best preparation back in Moscow to come here. But my goal was, like I was saying to Carlos, most important thing is I feel fresh. I feel fresh in my mind. That’s what I didn’t feel in Australia. I was a little bit burnt up. So I came here, I said, Maybe I’m not my best, but I feel great.
“I was playing match by match. First match, I had so many ups and downs. Second one, third one better. Every match, getting better. Here we are in the finals. I think it’s great.”
Strangely Kuznetsova is probably more aware of Elena Vesnina’s often-times doubles partner Ekaterina Makarova but has played her just twice on the WTA circuit. Preferring to put her faith in her coach and his scouting capabilities, she expects an attacking game.
“She plays pretty flat, aggressive tennis. I play more defence, but my spin is my key, probably.”
Elena Vesnina – Fact File
|Age||30 (1 August 1986)|
|Weight||143 lbs (65kg)|
|Height||5’ 7.75” (1.76m)|
|Plays||Right Handed, Two Handed Backhand|
|Career High (Singles)||15 (6 February 2017)|
|Career Singles Titles||2 titles|
Vesnina’s Path to the Final
- R1: BYE
- R2: Shelby Rogers 6-4 7-5
- R3: Timea Babos 6-4 1-6 6-4
- R4: Angelique Kerber 6-3 6-3
- QF: Venus Williams 6-2 4-6 6-3
- SF: Kristina Mladenovic 6-3 6-4
What has impressed most about Elena Vesnina’s path to the final is her absolute belief and ability to ride through some of her tougher battles. You would have expected her match against World No. 2 Angelique Kerber to be one of the tougher match-ups in her half of the draw but she nullified the German’s natural tendencies to run everything down with precise power hitting and aggressive control from the baseline.
She has had some great matches against Venus Williams in the past and this was no exception. Williams has been slow to start this tournament, and indeed the first set was almost over before Williams started to build up her pace. Vesnina joked:
“When she won the second set, I was, like, I saw previous matches that she was down with match point with a set point, and I was like, Uh-Oh, it’s coming back again. I’m going to be another victim of Venus. I don’t want. I want to win this. I want this match.”
Meeting another in-form player in Kristina Mladenovic, we saw some great dinks and plays at the net as befits two fine doubles players, but she was most successful at taking time away from the Frenchwoman.
Britwatch Breakdown – Svetlana Kuznetsova  v Elena Vesnina  – H2H: 1-1
There is no doubt that a day match is really going to suit Kuznetsova – the dry desert air and the hot conditions have had the ball zipping through the air, and sitting up high, begging to be clobbered with topspin.
Vesnina will have to work hard to flatten out the ball and keep Kuznetsova pinned at the back of the court. Both are adept at the net and over the course of the tournament we have been treated to some great play at the net, so we can expect a lot of court coverage between the two, and neither will be allergic to coming forwards.
Despite her assertions that she felt fine, there was a moment where Kuznetsova looked a little fatigued before cruising though the second set tie-break in her semi-final. Coming in off the back of injury may leave her perhaps the more tired of the two, although it is Vesnina who has had some of the tougher rounds.
A close one to call, and Kuznetsova probably has the edge – it would be great to see her win it on her third try, but Vesnina’s form in the last two rounds particularly has been very dominant.
Prediction: Vesnina in three sets.
Kuznetsova v Vesnina
|Svetlana Kuznetsova ||Elena Vesnina |
|· Two time finalist (2007, 2008)
· Best performance since making the final in 2008
|· Best performance at Indian Wells
· Last year fell in the first round of qualifiers
R2: Johanna Larson 7-6(3) 64
R3: Roberta Vinci 6-2 2-6 6-1
R4: Caroline Garcia 6-1 6-4
QF: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3 6-2
SF: Karolina Pliskova 7-6(5) 7-6(2)
R2: Shelby Rogers 6-4 7-5
R3: Timea Babos 6-4 1-6 6-4
R4: Angelique Kerber 6-3 6-3
QF: Venus Williams 6-2 4-6 6-3
SF: Kristina Mladenovic 6-3 6-4
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