By BEN WALKER, AP National Writer
September 12, 2004
NEW YORK (AP) -- A few days before she became the U.S. Open champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova walked into a drizzly night to play her quarterfinal match.
Shifted onto outer court No. 11, it was Kuznetsova, opponent Nadia Petrova -- and 23 fans at the start.
No stats were kept. No major TV coverage. No big deal, by the looks of it.
``I don't have much publicity,'' she said later that day. ``People do not know me as much.''
Even as she strolled through the National Tennis Center on Saturday night after her warmup and headed over to Arthur Ashe Stadium to play for the title, not a single person stopped her for an autograph or picture. A few minutes later, when Elena Dementieva emerged, the tall blonde was enveloped by fans.
That was then. Now, Kuznetsova needn't worry -- the 19-year-old with braces assured that by defeating Dementieva 6-3, 7-5 in the all-Russian final.
``I want success. I want to do something,'' she said. ``I really want people to remember my name.''
While the tennis world is learning her name, that doesn't mean people can pronounce it. During the on-court trophy presentation, U.S. Tennis Association president Alan Schwartz botched it before apologizing and correcting himself.
Kuznetsova missed a chance to win another title Sunday when she and Elena Likhovtseva lost in doubles to Virginia Ruano Pascual and Paola Suarez 6-4, 7-5.
Still, at No. 9, Kuznetsova became the tournament's lowest-seeded female singles champion in the Open era, which began in 1968.
A showing so impressive that it was worth calling her parents back in Russia.
``My mom, she didn't watch the match. She said, 'What was the score?''' Kuznetsova said. Told it, her mother responded, ``Wow, two sets. That's good.''
After finishing that call, doing interviews and accepting congratulations, Kuznetsova did as she always does. She returned to the practice court and, as midnight approached, hit more balls before leaving the grounds.
``After the match, you have to clean up your game,'' she said Sunday. ``It doesn't matter if you win the title.''
Back at the hotel, she talked to friends on the Internet, packed her bag for an upcoming trip to Bali and got something to eat. She also turned on the television, hoping to see highlights from the greatest victory of her career.
``I was switching channels, but I couldn't find anything,'' she said.
[DelMonte: Stupid media.
Clips of her win were shown on the scoreboard between sets of her doubles match, and Kuznetsova got a cheer from the fans filling into watch Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt play for the men's title.
At one point, Kuznetsova hit an overhead that nipped Suarez's heel and put up both hands to apologize. The match ended when Suarez crunched Kuznetsova's return for the winning point.
``If I really concentrate in doubles, I can do very well,'' she said. ``But it's not my point for doing this. I'm just doing my best for singles.''