Resurgent Kuznetsova in love with tennis again

Published by Matt Trollope

Svetlana Kuznetsova waves to the crowd after beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to reach the Indian Wells semifinals; Getty Images
Svetlana Kuznetsova, back in the top 10 and through to the Indian Wells semifinals, is enjoying a renewed love for the sport in the twilight of her career.

Svetlana Kuznetsova went pro in 2000 and won her first major title 13 years ago at the US Open.

Yet the Russian, who turns 32 in a few months, is enjoying tennis perhaps more than ever before.

Kuznetsova is through to the BNP Paribas Open semifinals – her deepest run at Indian Wells since 2008 – and will take on Karolina Pliskova on Friday night for a place in the final.

Last year she returned to the top 10 after a six-year absence and qualified for the WTA Finals field for the first time since 2009.

What’s suddenly clicked at this stage of her career?

“I think I enjoying the most now, because the thing is when you’re so young and you get to the top of the game, you don’t value it so much,” said Kuznetsova, who won her second Grand Slam title at Roland Garros in 2009.

“I was couple years, what, 20, 25 in the rankings? And then, like, couple it was like three, four years, and then you make it to top 10, you value so much more the effort and what you’ve done, what you achieved. You have been there before and you got here.

“So I’m enjoying it much more now, because now I know the value of this.”

After beating Caroline Garcia in the fourth round, Kuznetsova said on court that she’d “fallen in love with the game again”.

Her compatriot Elena Vesnina, also through to the semifinals at Indian Wells, said she could see this was the case.

“I spoke with Sveta couple years ago, and she told me that at that time two years ago she started working even harder than she was working, let’s say, five, seven years ago, but she was working with a smile on her face,” Vesnina revealed.

“I was asking her, Sveta, are you okay? You’re working six hours a day and you’re still smiling and enjoying. She’s, like, I’m really enjoying what I’m doing. I love tennis and just now I realise how lucky I am that I have this life.

“I think that’s why she’s having this great season. You know, after 30, gets back into the top 10 and in semifinal of Indian Wells. Last year she played final in Miami.

“She’s inspiring. She’s a great player.”

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