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http://msn.foxsports.com/tennis/story/9565944/With-new-coach,-Kuznetsova-ready-for-French

With new coach, Kuznetsova ready for French
by Matt Cronin, Special to FOXSports.com

Earlier this year, the always-emotional world No. 1 Dinara Safina yelled at her coach — after winning a set.


The enigmatic former U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, who is the daughter of two athletes, doesn't want to be chided by anyone wearing a coach's cap.
The two friends met in the final of the last two Sony Ericsson WTA Tour tournaments, with Kuznetsova winning her first title in a year and a half by taking down Safina in Stuttgart, and Safina winning her first crown of the season in Rome by besting Kuznetsova, 6-3, 6-2.
That matchup may very well be the same one the world sees in the French Open final, between two intense and capable Russians who believe they are better than their results have showed.
Just don't get on Kuznetsova's case — she's done being dictated to.
"I don't want anybody telling me all the time what to do," Kuznetsova told FOXSports.com. "I want to do my own thing. I'm more relaxed, easy going. I'm not worried too much. If it goes my way, fine. If not, I'll keep trying."
Perhaps that's the reason why Kuznetsova let go of coach Olga Morozova in mid-match after she had lost in the first round of two straight events for the first time. She praised the former top Soviet player's knowledge of the game and her personal qualities, but Morozova apparently was in her struggling student's face too much.
As talented and strong as she is, Kuznetsova has grappled with her on-court courage and serious bouts of nerves since she came of age by beating Lindsay Davenport and Elena Dementieva to win the U.S. Open in 2004. Going into Stuttgart, she had lost her last six finals.
"I had trouble playing the finals, but I played (the now retired former No. 1 Justine) Henin most of the time and she played better than me. But sometimes I did not and it was me and something was disturbing me. Something wasn't there and (in Stuttgart) it was. The first time I walked on court I felt I could do it." At the age of 23, the talkative Kuznetsova would rather take decisions into her own hands, but she's very much a social bird and is arguably the most popular player in the locker room. It would be hard to see her going completely solo, so a little over a month after she waved goodbye to Morozova, she hired former top-ranked doubles player and current Fed Cup coach Larisa Savchenko to help her during the clay-court season. Savchenko is still in her 30s and seems to have a good idea when to let Kuznetsova go her own way.


"She's very easy-going and relaxed and we have great communication," Kuznetsova said. "She tells me little things and it helps me find my way out. For me, external opinions help, but it doesn't have to be pushy and bring me down."
Armed with a brutish forehand that she learned training on soft dirt in Spain, Kuznetsova can be extremely imposing, but she can also quickly grow despondent on court.
At the 2005 French Open, she failed to convert two match points while up 5-3 in the third set against an exhausted Henin and fell 7-6 (6), 4-6, 7-5.
The next year in Paris in the final against Henin, she failed to trust her shots and lost 6-4, 6-4.
In the 2007 U.S. Open final, she essentially folded before the first ball was even tossed in a 6-1, 6-3 loss to Henin .
Even this year, her long matches against excellent players were mostly resulting in losses, like when she went down to eventual titlists Serena Williams at the Australian Open and Victoria Azarenka in Miami.
"In the important moments I didn't do well against Serena, and against Azarenka, I just wasn't lucky enough," she said.
Luck has very little to do with any player's overall results, but like some of her other peers, Kuznetsova has been known to curse the gods when a ball she struck well on a match point happened to be pushed an inch out by a gust of wind. It's on those days when she tended to beat herself up, but now she says she has a more healthy mindset, where she is enjoying her career rather than questioning her role in the sport.
"It's my job and some days it's hard, but I cannot imagine myself without tennis," she said. "I love doing this. When I play, to enjoy it is the most important thing. When you lose, you don't enjoy it, but I try to find my way." At the very least, the seventh-ranked Kuznetsova sees herself as an elite player, which really wasn't the case last year when many times it seemed like she put her head down during critical matches. While she doesn't own the killer instinct of the Williams sisters or a Maria Sharapova, on clay her footwork is superior and she is adept at constructing points to her own advantage.



"It's about me doing my tactics because most of the match is going to depend on what I do," she said. "If I play well, I'm favored in most of the matches. But I don't do goals now. It's too much to think about. It's better just to play my game and keep it simple."
With Serena injuring her knee again, defending champion Ana Ivanovic herself struggling with a knee injury, Venus not having a strong Roland Garros in the past five years, and Jelena Jankovic frustrated with her lack of speed, Kuznetsova and Safina appear to be the players in the best mental and physical shape going into Paris.
But there is no out-and-out favorite on dirt, not since four-time French Open champion Henin called it a career last May.
"It's so aggressive and physical now that players cannot dominate," Kuznetsova said. "It's very hard because we have too much travel, pressure and it's emotional and you can't be there all time. Serena comes back, plays great and then goes away. There are 40 or 50 players who can win a tournament and it's much more interesting now because before you could easily get to the quarters.
"It's not like that anymore."
While Kuznetsova is impressed by the games of teenagers Azarenka and Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki, she's not expecting them to dance away with a Slam title yet. She's expecting a more proven player to shine in Paris. It could be her, and if she wins the title it will be on her own terms. "You can break though anywhere, but at the Slams it's different," she said. "We have the experience, and that makes a huge difference."
 

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You need the mental toughness to break through. It's not just dependent on experience.

I hope She is ready, especially for the pressure matches.
 

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Nice interview! She's saying a lot of things. It's good that she's taking a more easy-going attitude towards tennis, maybe that can give her the mental space that she needs. She knows she has her chances now that justine is out of the way, jankovic and safina think the same.

She's convincingly losing to bondarenko though...
 

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at least she knows how to tank a match unlike a certain someone :tape:
 

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What a great coach.:worship: Losing 5 straight games to a slumping Alona.:haha:
There are some good points in this match, and alona has the mental confidence. She's beaten her 2 times on clay.
 
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With Serena injuring her knee again, defending champion Ana Ivanovic herself struggling with a knee injury, Venus not having a strong Roland Garros in the past five years, and Jelena Jankovic frustrated with her lack of speed, Kuznetsova and Safina appear to be the players in the best mental and physical shape going into Paris.
thats a back handed compliment if ever i heard one, kuznetsova and safina...are the only ones left.

sveta has a great shot at RG, lets just ignore her match in rome vs safina and the current match vs bondarenko :tape:
 

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There are some good points in this match, and alona has the mental confidence. She's beaten her 2 times on clay.
Sveta should be winning this match if any of their respective results over the past few weeks are anything to go by. This is exactly why she won't win the French. She's way too streaky and upset-prone.
 

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Sveta should be winning this match if any of their respective results over the past few weeks are anything to go by. This is exactly why she won't win the French. She's way too streaky and upset-prone.
i disagree and agree :/ she will win the french, obviously i would say that.
i think a player of her standard should be able to play 3 weeks in a row, remember back to 2004 when she won the US, then bali then final of beijing. long time ago yes but still her effort in the match today was shite quite frankly.
 

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Savchenko is still in her 30s and seems to have a good idea when to let Kuznetsova go her own way.

Eh? I'm sure Savchenko wishes she was still in her 30s :D.
Larissa was in her 30's 60 yrs ago
she looks like it :fiery:
 

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Taking it easy is good in a sense, but she needs the mental toughness, and the intensity to take it all the way to the bank.

She also needs a coach who can tell her what to do.lol. Not to be rubbing her failures in, but to have a strong hand.

She has so much talent; so much.

Justine always said Kuzzy was the hardest player for her to play against. And I always thought, with a 15/1 record against her, why would Henin keep making statements like that.lol.
 
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