Kuznetsova topples Barty for third Top 10 win this week in Cincinnati

Kuznetsova topples Barty for third Top 10 win this week in Cincinnati

The Russian cruised into the Western & Southern Open final with a 6-2, 6-4 victory on Saturday to win the pair's first WTA meeting.

Svetlana Kuznetsova continued to turn back the clock at the Western & Southern Open on Saturday, beating world No. 2 Ashleigh Barty in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4, to reach the final of the Premier 5 event in Cincinnati.

Barty would’ve returned to No. 1 by reaching the final; now, Naomi Osaka will keep the top spot.

The Australian made a fast start to her semifinal match against Kuznetsova, winning eight of the first 10 points to jump out to a 2-0 lead, but the Russian caught fire from there, winning the next eight games in a row to build a 6-2, 2-0 lead. The two women held serve from there until it was over.

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Kuznetsova closed it out after 67 minutes when a Barty backhand passing shot sailed out.

“Ashleigh’s game is really different. It’s kind of the game I play, I think, more similar," Kuznetsova told press. 

"I was just trying to figure it out. I felt like I was in control of the match because I’m moving well, bringing every ball back, playing consistent. I’m bringing more pressure to my opponent. I could read her game well and was really stable in my game. I thought it was the key.”

Having beaten No. 10 Sloane Stephens in the third round and No. 3 Karolina Pliskova in the quarters, this is the first time Kuznetsova has ever beaten three Top 10 players at the same tournament. She’s still working her way back up the rankings herself after missing the first three months of the year due to wrist and knee injuries. Currently No. 153, she’ll return to the Top 65 by reaching the final.

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“I’m really happy,” the two-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 2 said. “I’m not really an analyzing person, but somehow, on my intuition, I’m doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes. I’m just playing smarter and wiser now. At 34 years old, I should start, I think.

“It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all traveling and all the stress when you play tournaments. But now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It’s definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things out of tennis, because when you learn more, you can bring more to your work, your job.”

The Russian is now through to the 42nd WTA final of her career, going 18-23 in her first 41. This is her first final since winning the International event in Washington D.C. in 2018, and her first final at the Premier level or higher since Indian Wells in 2017 (where she finished runner-up to Elena Vesnina). Kuznetsova was unable to defend her Citi Open title two weeks ago in D.C. due to issues with receiving a visa.

She’ll next face Madison Keys, who eliminated Sofia Kenin, 7-5, 6-4, later Saturday afternoon.