Svetlana Kuznetsova didn’t exactly miss tennis during her six-month layoff last year, when a knee injury ended her season after Wimbledon. After 12 years of nonstop traveling and playing, Kuznetsova said it was a blessing in disguise, the perfect excuse for her to return home to Moscow and, well, just chill.
“I love to do this job, but sometimes it’s too much,” Kuznetsova said after beating Caroline Wozniacki 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-2 in the second round of the Sydney International on Tuesday. As an example, Kuznetova cited the time she experienced burnout while training in Spain in 2008. “I couldn’t do this any longer,” she said.
Kuznetsova won her first major at the 2004 U.S. Open when she was 19. Back then, the brace-faced Russian had no idea what she was getting into. She turned pro in 2000. Success came quickly and suddenly, possibly before she actually understood exactly what it took to not only win Grand Slam tournaments but also stay atop the game. Blessed with natural athleticism that translated into the powerful groundstrokes of a big-hitting baseliner, along with the quickness and agility to cover the court like a counterpuncher, Kuznetsova could do it all.
Often, that was the problem. She has struggled to play with a sense of clarity, to know exactly what she wanted to do and execute. Sometimes having too much talent leads to too many options, which leads to confusion. That’s where Kuznetsova found herself last year, when she had no idea what shot was coming off her racket at any given moment.