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Thursday, September 1, 2011
Svetlana Kuznetsova is fit and focused

By Viv Bernstein

With two Grand Slam singles titles already on her resume, Svetlana Kuznetsova, 26, still believes there is more for her to accomplish in tennis. She might be under the radar and playing on the outside courts as the No. 15 seed, but the 2004 U.S. Open champ and 2009 French Open champ is quietly working her way through the tournament. She beat Elena Baltacha of Great Britain 6-4, 6-3, on Thursday to move into the third round and will next face Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan. Kuznetsova spoke to espnW after the win over Baltacha.

espnW: What are your memories of winning here in 2004?

Svetlana Kuznetsova: Well, I was 19. It was a long time ago. I just remember that I was playing unbelievable in the final. [She defeated countrywoman Elena Dementieva.] I remember [in the] semifinal I was losing against [Lindsay] Davenport 6-1, 2-1 and down a break, and I have no clue how I won this match, that I could turn it around given the wind was so strong. And I don't know, I just was very excited and I couldn't expect for myself another win and then things changed a lot for me after this win here.

espnW: How?

SK: How? Well, definitely the next year I struggled, because maybe somehow I wasn't prepared that much for to be, like, in the top 5 after just starting season in the top 30, you know? It's a pretty big jump and everybody was expecting a lot from me and I had lot of pressure. [The] next year I finished out of the top 20, I think, but then I could fight back and I just learned a lot from this.

espnW: What are your hopes and expectations for this year's tournament?

SK: I don't have any hopes or expectations, I just want to play my best tennis each match. I can and go match by match, and let's see where it will bring me, because you never know what to expect from any opponent and you always have to be ready 100 percent.

espnW: You've been a little under the radar, in part because you did not have a strong hard-court season.

SK: But I'm always under radar everywhere. And coming to the U.S. Open they put you for the first match on court 4, then another match [on 11] … the only way I can speak up is play good and win matches and show that I can still can play, still can win. This is all I can do. Definitely the season was not so good for me and sometimes it's life, it's not only white, it's also black sometimes. I just have to play through it and I think it will be back to me.

espnW: What is your fitness regimen?

SK: I don't have a fitness coach for the moment. I just know how to do it, because I been around the circuit for a while, for 10 years I've been playing pro, but I'm looking for somebody for a [fitness] coach. But still I can hold on and be in shape. But I would like to improve it, I would like to have a good fitness coach.

espnW: Did you lose weight?

SK: I did lose a few kilos. I'm not sure maybe 5, 6 kilos [11-13 pounds]. I'm not sure. I don't want to be obsessed about it, because every time we're obsessed, especially women, we get crazy. So every time they would push me for many years to lose weight, I just couldn't because I don't know, maybe I didn't have enough will or I'm just kind of person when people tell me to do something, I do completely opposite, because it's just like that. And sometimes when nobody is talking to me about [my fitness], I could do and it was not so important to me. I just did it, that's it.

espnW: How has that weight loss helped your game?

SK: I move better. I don't know, I won two Grand Slams with my old weight, so it doesn't really matter. It's important to feel comfortable and I felt comfortable like I was before and I feel comfortable now. This is the most important, to have your balance inside of you.

Is some of your best tennis ahead of you?

SK: For sure, for sure, I have a lot of potential. I just want to work on it. I love the game too much and I want just to play and be there.