Ash Barty’s hopes for a return to No. 1 and the US Open tennis seed evaporated Saturday in the Cincinnati semifinals. Two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova war nearly flawless in a comprehensive 6-2, 6-4 win over the Australian.
“I’m really happy,” Kuznetsova said. “I’m not really an analyzing person, but somehow, like, on my intuition, I’m doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes. Just playing smarter and wiser now. At 34 I should start, I think.”
Now down to No. 153, the 34-year-old Kuznetsova has struggled with many injury issues.
“It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off,” said Kuznetsova. “Honestly, I was not missing at all traveling and all the stress when you play tournaments. But now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. Definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things out of tennis, because when you learn more you can bring more to your work, to your job.”
Barty, who needed a win to get back to No. 1, was never really in match. The ailing Naomi Osaka will assume the top seed in New York next week.
Kuznetsova will seek her 19th career title Sunday against Madison Keys. Keys won an all-American tussle with Sofia Kenin 7-5, 6-4. Kenin led by a break and was in command before Kenin led 3-1 in the second.
With the odds looking for a third, Keys came back and overpower the youngster to reach her 9th final.
“I think in the second set she started returning really well and taking things really early. Seemed like she was really seeing it. I kind of just had to really focus in on my return games and put the same amount of pressure on her,” Keys said.
Said Kenin, “I think I played pretty well overall. Maddie just played really well, you know. She served big in important moments and got lucky on a few stuff, but obviously she played really well. Just credit to her,” she said.
“I’m really proud of myself. Getting to the semis in Toronto was really good, and playing a second week and getting into semifinals [here] is just really good.
“I’m really happy. Playing really well, having great weeks. This is exactly what I need coming for New York.”
Keys leads the Russian 3-1 winning the last three. But they haven’t played since 2016.
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