Monday action at the Australian Open completed the quarterfinal line-up and a special treat was to see Svetlana Kuznetsova doing well again. The matches of Day 8 saw Serena Williams wasting little energy to crush Maria Kirilenko 6-2 6-0, Sloane Stephens reaching her first Grand Slam quarterfinal with a 6-1 3-6 7-5 win over Bojana Jovanovski (Stephens will now crack the Top 20!) and top seed Victoria Azarenka easing past Elena Vesnina 6-1 6-1, but Azarenka's next opponent is the one I wanted to focus this article on – two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, who is making a comeback statement with the fourth-round upset of tenth seed and former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki 6-2 2-6 7-5.
Kuznetsova used to be a huge threat, but it's been a while since her name was in the headlines shoulder-to-shoulder with the WTA top names. Last season was her first in 11 years that she didn't finish in the Top 50, largely due to the knee injury that forced her to skip all post-Wimbledon events, but the Russian, despite struggling with crutches and blisters on her hands, used the time off to refresh her mind and came back to the Tour lurking as a low-ranked underdog.
In Sydney 2013, while ranked No.85, the 2004 US Open and 2009 French Open champion had to go through qualifying, but then made a significant mark by taking out Julia Goerges in the first round and then Caroline Wozniacki in the second, before falling to second seed Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals. Now she's building up on the success at the Australian Open by making her first Grand Slam final eight in almost two years.
Besides refreshing tennis results, Kuznetsova also started the new year with a new apparel sponsor, Qiaodan, a change that came after more than a decade with Fila. Here's what the 27-year-old had to say about the cooperation:
I had offer, and I appreciate Fila. I have been with Fila for 10 years or more. They did the best for me. I appreciate everything they done. But it’s time for me to do a new thing, and that’s why sign me deal. And pretty happy looking forward to have a good relationship with the new company, Chinese company. I like so much the quality of the clothes. I like the design a lot.
I'm excited to see how Kuznetsova will do against the current No.1. Even though Kuznetsova leads Azarenka 4-3 in their head-to-head record, Azarenka was the one who won their both meetings in 2012 and Kuznetsova remembers one of those losses as "a total disaster". Can she step up this time? (quote via The Slice, photo: Tidalist)