In an all-seeded third round match, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Johanna Konta will play each other for the first time as they battle for a place in the quarter-finals of Rio 2016.
Kuznetsova had a walkover into the third round after her opponent, Monica Niculescu was forced to pull out with a back injury. The Romanian player was sidelined for the grass court warm-up tournaments with a back injury so that doesn’t sound too encouraging. Kuznetsova’s first match of the week was a classic Sveta match! She needed three sets to get past Wang Qiang but never seemed in danger, winning with the curious scoreline of 6-1 4-6 6-0.
There were injury concerns in Konta’s second round match too as her opponent, Caroline Garcia had the trainer on in the first set for an arm injury. The Frenchwoman looked a tad uncomfortable as Konta advanced in straight sets, 6-2 6-3. The Brit was really smart on serve, mixing it up and keeping Garcia guessing. Konta became a little passive in the middle of the second set as Garcia began to dictate but the Brit refocused, as she has done well on so many occasions this year, to win the last two games.
Interesting stats: Konta and Kuznetsova have had very similar years in terms of W-L record; Konta is at 30-16 for the year, while Kuznetsova is just one win behind at 29-14. Both players have been very consistent in 2016; Konta has proven that last year was not a flash in the pan with solid results all round, bar the clay court season. Kuznetsova has been much more consistent compared to recent years where she was so vulnerable early on in tournaments; since Miami, Kuznetsova has lost her first match at just two tournaments.
*Always worthy of a shout-out, Tennis Abstract is the place to be for all your tennis-related stats!*
Final thoughts: With little data to go on, as the pair have never played, this is a tough one to call. Konta’s form has been the more dominant with a first WTA title in Stanford a few weeks ago but Kuznetsova has been very consistent of late and has bundles of experience. I’m fascinated to see how this one unfolds and am expecting a tight tussle… with little confidence, Kuznetsova in three!
Photo in this post by mootennis.com