Two-time slam winner ends four-year title drought
Two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia ended her four-year WTA title drought Sunday, beating Kurumi Nara of Japan 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in the Citi Open.
Asked if it felt like so much time had passed since she won a tournament, Kuznetsova smiled broadly and replied: "It feels like it's been too long."
It was the 14th tournament victory for the 29-year-old Kuznetsova, but her first since she won at San Diego in August 2010. Her collection includes trophies from the 2004 U.S. Open and 2009 French Open.
"I work very hard every day, trying to improve things. After you win Slams, not winning tournaments -- it's really hard," Kuznetsova said.
At 4-all in the final set, with Kuznetsova serving, they played the longest game of the match, with 16 points, five deuces and one break point.
"I got a little bit paralyzed and was getting tight, and I'm happy I overcame this feeling today," Kuznetsova said. "But definitely, didn't play my best tennis in the end of second and third set."
Still, Kuznetsova eventually held to lead 5-4, then broke Nara in the next game to end it.
Nara said she "tried (to) focus again" when serving to stay in the match, but Kuznetsova would not allow her to play as aggressively as she wanted.
"She hit a very heavy ball, so I cannot go very (easily) into the court," Nara said.
Kuznetsova, who was seeded sixth and ranked 26th, had never played in Washington's hard-court tuneup for the U.S. Open.
She said that when she was trying to decide whether to enter the Citi Open or the WTA tournament at Stanford, California, the same week, some other players tried to persuade her to skip Washington, saying the city's heat is too tough and that in the past, the tournament didn't have top-level facilities such as the gym or locker room.
But she liked that it was on the East Coast and a short flight to Canada for next week's hard-court tour stop. And, in the end, Kuznetsova left town with a trophy.
The unseeded Nara, who was bidding for her second singles title of 2014, also was the runner-up in doubles at the Citi Open.
"I like Washington," Nara said. "Hopefully, I (will) come back next hear. I like U.S. hard courts."