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Kuznetsova wins French Open title

By Piers Newbery

Svetlana Kuznetsova (left) and Dinara Safina

Highlights - Kuznetsova wins French Open (UK users only)

Svetlana Kuznetsova beat fellow Russian and world number one Dinara Safina to win the French Open at Roland Garros.

Seventh seed Kuznetsova, 23, controlled a tense encounter to come through 6-4 6-2 for her second major title, following victory at the 2004 US Open.

Safina had hoped to confirm her number one status with a first Grand Slam title, but was well below her best and double-faulted on match point.

Kuznetsova reeled off the last four games to win in one hour 14 minutes.

"Today I think she was too tight," Kuznetsova said of her opponent. "She had so much pressure on her but I could bring my better game today - that's why I won."

Svetlana Kuznetsova

Kuznetsova delighted with second slam

An emotional Safina slammed her racquet into the dirt in frustration after making her seventh double-fault of the day on match point.

The 23-year-old has now lost in the French Open final for two years running, and was also heavily beaten by Serena Williams in January's Australian Open final.

"Here I am back in the same situation as last year," said Safina. "Hopefully one day I can win here."

Kuznetsova has been a fixture in the upper reaches of the women's game since winning the US Open aged 19 but had struggled to live up to that early achievement, having been comfortably beaten by Justine Henin in the 2006 final in Paris.

Both players were therefore desperate to get their hands on the trophy and not surprisingly began in nervous fashion, trading breaks in the first two games.

Kuznetsova was the more adventurous, making regular visits to the net while looking solid from the baseline, but it was Safina who missed the next chance to move ahead.

At 2-2, Kuznetsova took matters into her own hands at break point down and attacked the net, punching away a forehand volley to save.


Four games later it was the seventh seed's chance to take control and she did so, thanks in part to a net cord as she broke for 5-3, but Kuznetsova was then broken to love as Safina pegged her back.

Kuznetsova finally clinched a scrappy first set when she fired a huge forehand return winner followed by a wrong-footing backhand in game 10.

The opening four games of the second set went with serve but it was Safina who was feeling the pressure, throwing in double faults and angrily swiping her racquet as the pressure took hold.

It came to a head when a wayward forehand on break point saw the top seed fall 4-2 behind and she was unable to mount any form of recovery.

Svetlana Kuznetsova

Kuznetsova shows keepy-uppy skills

After little over an hour's play, Safina netted a backhand in game eight to face match point and then delivered her seventh double-fault of the day, leaving the crowd hushed and Kuznetsova seemingly stunned.

The world number seven commiserated with her compatriot at the net before climbing through the stands to begin the real celebrations with her supporters.

"I've been waiting for this moment for a very long time," said Kuznetsova.

"Really, I didn't expect it to happen this year but I give my best, I played with all my heart, I had unbelievable matches, I had unbelievable support. It's my favourite tournament."

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see also
Federer advice helped Kuznetsova
06 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Safina v Kuznetsova as it happened
06 Jun 09 |  Tennis
French Open day 14 pictures
06 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Order of play
23 May 09 |  Tennis
Women's singles draw
28 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Men's singles draw
26 Aug 11 |  Tennis

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