Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova
Two popular WTA players have united for an exciting doubles partnership during the upcoming 2013 season. Flavia Pennetta shared with La Gazzetta dello Sport that she will play doubles with Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2013.
Svetlana Kuznetsova is a two-time Grand Slam Singles Champion (2004 U.S. Open, 2009 French Open). Her impressive singles resume unfortunately often overshadows the equally respectable achievements she has obtained as part of a doubles team.
Sveta (as she is known on tour) has made the finals of Grand Slam tournaments in doubles six times, winning twice. Her most recent victory came just last season as she partnered with fellow Russian Vera Zvonereva to win the 2012 Australian Open women's doubles title.
The defending champions of that very same title were Italy's Flavia Pennetta and Argentina's Gisela Dulko.
Pennetta and Dulko had formed one of the more popular partnerships in recent years on the WTA. However, with Dulko's retirement at the end of the 2012 season, Pennetta has been on the search for a new doubles partner.
Although Flavia Pennetta has been a top-20 singles player, her more notable accomplishments have been in doubles. With different partners Pennetta has made the quarterfinals or better at a Grand Slam doubles event nine times.
Perhaps even more impressive is that the Italian player who was raised playing on clay courts has been able to make it to at least the quarterfinals on every surface, including a surprise semi-final appearance on the grass of Wimbledon in 2010.
Kuznetsova and Pennetta are perhaps a match made in heaven. Both very well-liked by their WTA peers for their kindness off-court, the two add complimenting personalities to the partnership.
Kuzentsova is known to go through lapses of emotional frustration and sometimes struggles maintaining a competitive focus throughout matches; Pennetta, in contrast, is fun and light-hearted on court and spends more time smiling and laughing than fretting over small mistakes. Flavia may be who Sveta needs to help her maintain her mental toughness and truly hone in on her remarkable natural talent.
The two even compliment each other in their style of play. Sveta has a world-class forehand, while Flavia possesses the goods on the backhand side; Sveta has the killer serve, and Flavia has the pinpoint accurate return game; both women are strong at net and balance power with topnotch finesse.
Over the past two years, both players have fallen steadily down the ranks in singles. Although Kuznetsova still possesses the power and athletic prowess to compete with the world's best, Pennetta's more defensive style of play is not keeping up with the new generation of power base-liners.
This doubles match-up seems to promise some exciting Grand Slam matches in 2013. It will also help the continued effort of the WTA to attract tennis spectators back to the game of doubles. In a time when most top players are no longer competing in doubles competition, the union of Pennetta and Kuznetsova is certainly refreshing.
If the two stay together all season, look out for at least a few Grand Slam final appearances by the team, and baring a Williams' sisters match-up, possibly even some titles. They may be especially threatening on the clay of the 2013 Roland Garros tournament as both players excel on the slower surface; they may also be dangerous at the 2013 Australian Open where both players have previously won the championship doubles titles (2011 for Pennetta, 2012 for Kuznetsova).