By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) – Svetlana Kuznetsova prevailed in one of the most established “fixtures” in women’s tennis as she beat Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2 6-4 to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals on Monday for the first time in 10 years.
The Russian, seeded seventh, has found Radwanska an agreeable opponent over the past decade and did so again to beat her for the 14th time in 18 matches and set up a clash with former runner-up Garbine Muguruza.
Kuznetsova, 32, is in the quarter-finals for the fourth time and is yet to drop a set so far in this year’s championships, spending less than five hours on court so far.
Yet despite her pedigree as a former U.S. Open and French Open champion, few are discussing the prospect of her holding aloft the Venus Rosewater Dish on Saturday.
Not that she cares a jot.
“I think I have an amazing respect from the players, they know they have to play their best to beat me,” Kuznetsova told reporters. “Of course I think I should get more from the fans and from the press. Not many things in life are fair.
“I’ve been out here awhile, and since I was a kid they told me I’m never going to be anywhere near the top,” she said.
“I’m used to it. The important thing is to understand that opinions don’t matter. It actually helps me. I felt better here, more free. If people don’t believe in me that’s their choice.”
She will definitely emerge from beneath the radar now though, having roared through the draw – helped by her three opponents before Radwanska having an average ranking of 139.
Kuznetsova was required to up her game against tricky ninth seed Radwanska and she did so, striking 37 winners to her opponent’s 13 in a commanding display.
Former runner-up Radwanska was always playing catch-up after going 4-0 down on a sun-drenched Court Three.
She did a good job of staying with the Russian in a second set full of long rallies that lasted nearly an hour.
The Pole fought off four break points at 1-1 but Kuznetsova, one of six grand slam champions to reach the last 16 and the second-oldest woman left standing, kept pushing and got the break at 3-3 when Radwanska fired a backhand wide.
Kuznetsova wobbled as she served for victory at 5-4 but battled back from 15-40 down and nailed a backhand winner on match point to move through to the quarter-final.
Her previous three Wimbledon quarter-finals all ended in defeat – against Justine Henin in 2003, Lindsay Davenport in 2005 and Venus Williams in 2007.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Mark Heinrich)