Serena Williams vs Svetlana Kuznetsova: 6-1, 3-6, 6-3
Williams and Kuznetsova have each won a French Open title once before.
Williams took the crown in 2002, defeating her sister Venus Williams in the final.
Since winning that title a decade ago, Williams advanced to the semifinals in 2003, but lost that match to up-and-coming Justine Henin. The Belgian would go on to dominate the French Open for the next five years, until she retired from tennis in 2008.
Since 2003, Williams has not advanced beyond the quarterfinals at Stade Roland Garros. In fact, last year she went out in the first round—losing her first ever Grand Slam match in her opening round.
Kuznetsova won her French Open title in 2009 defeating Dinara Safina in the final. Since that time, the former champ has advanced as far as the quarterfinals which she reached in 2011, losing to Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli.
Williams led in their head-to-head 6-2 prior to this year’s French Open, losing to Kuznetsova on clay during the 2009 French Open quarterfinals and on hardcourts in 2007 in Stuttgart, Germany.
Coming into this year’s French Open, Kuznetsova continued to rebuild her prowess after leaving the game at the conclusion of last year’s Wimbledon to heal physically and emotionally.
She has been working her way back into form since the start of this year and finds her game peaking at just the right moment.
Williams, since dropping her opening round match at the 2012 French Open, has lost three times—first to Angelique Kerber during the quarterfinals at Cincinnati in 2012, then to Sloan Stephens at the 2013 Australian Open and finally to Victoria Azarenka at Doha in February of 2013.
Each woman came into the French Open quarterfinals in 2013 fully fit and ready to do battle.
At first it looked like Williams would cruise because she took the first set 6-1 in 28 minutes. Kuznetsova seemed unsure and unsteady. She could not get her first serves to fall in. But all that changed in the second set when the Russian shot out to a 4-0 lead.
It appeared the wheels had fallen off the Williams’ wagon on her way to an inevitable French Open Championship match. But Serena began to claw her way back into contention in the second set.
Serving for the set at 5-3, Kuznetsova found herself in a deep hole, but with sheer guts and determination, the Russian evened the game at deuce, fighting off numerous break points. Finally she won the advantage and then the set, 6-3.
Williams and Kuznetsova had each won one set. It would be decided in the third.
Kuznetsova once again broke out to a lead, this time 2-0, breaking the Williams serve again. But Serena broke back, eventually winning three games in a row.
On serve at 3-2 with the Russian serving, Kuznetsova could not hold. Williams would serve for 5-2.
Kuznetsova fought valiantly, never giving an inch, but she proved to be no match for Serena’s power in the end.
The match ended on Serena's serve with the world No. 1 winning the set 6-3.
Williams moves on the semifinals at the 2013 French Open Championships.