Tennis Freaks

“1821: Nadal, I’ve noticed, has a problem with his shorts, in that they keep on getting stuck up his jacksie and he has to pull them out before every point. Not sure why he doesn’t just get a size up, he’s probably loaded.”

Kuznetsova-Venus as it happened

Wimbledon fourth round result:

S KUZN’VA (Rus) 5 * v V WIL’AMS (US) 23

3-6 4-6

* denotes server

SECOND SET

Kuznetsova 3-6 4-6 Venus
And it’s all over, Venus surviving a series of scares to hold and secure her passage into the semi-finals. Kuznetsova fought to the very end, battling back from 0-40 down to break point up, but the Russian could not force a winner from the three-deuce game as a Kuznetsova return goes long at match point.

“That was just supreme tennis from Venus. Kuznetsova could have played like she did and beaten almost any other opponent out there on the circuit, but against Williams in that form it never looked like being enough.”
BBC Sport pundit Sam Smith

Kuznetsova 3-6 4-5 Venus
Pure bravery from Kuznetsova, who holds to 40 in the face of yet more sizzling Venus groundstrokes. To add to her distraction, the bin by the umpire’s chair blows over for a second time – I put a couple of bricks in the bottom of mine at home to stop that happening, perhaps I should send a letter to the Wimbledon big wigs – but she holds her nerve well to ensure Venus will have to serve out the match.

“That was a brilliant hang tough, heads up game from Kuznetsova. Whatever happens here, give her a few more years and she really could be one of the best players in the world if you ask me.”
BBC Sport pundit Sam Smith

Kuznetsova 3-6 3-5 Venus
The BBC production team take a break from the tennis to focus on some nondescript oldies in the royal box who I’m sure my mum would probably recognise but who mean nothing to me. It’s a welcome two-minute break from the intensity of the tennis, though, which resumes apace on Venus’s serve. Kuznetsova greets a wasted opportunity at 15-30 with some inexplicable Russian – something along the lines of “oh curses, I forgot to set the video for Murder She Wrote!” I reckon – and Venus digs in to hold to 30.

Kuznetsova 3-6 3-4 Venus
It’s three breaks on the trot as Kuznetsova crumbles to love to gift Venus the initiative once again. So cruel on the Russian, who has fought bravely throughout, but Venus is on a different plain out there.

“I’ve been praising Kuznetsova for the way she has been hanging on in this match, but Venus really is on a different level. I just wonder if Kuznetsova is just mentally exhausted right now.”
BBC Sport pundit Sam Smith

Kuznetsova 3-6 3-3 Venus
Well, just when I thought it was all over, Kuznetsova emerges from the break a new woman. Venus shows anxiety for the first time in the match on her serve and Kuznetsova takes advantage to move to 40-0 up. Somehow, Venus screams her way back to deuce with a series of forehand winners but, with the wind playing havoc with the American’s toss, Kuznetsova snatches another break point and this time the Russian makes no mistake as she forces the error to break back.

Kuznetsova 3-6 2-3 Venus
Oh dear, more aggression and accuracy from Venus and she earns three more break points at 40-0 up on the Russian’s serve. Kuznetsova saves one with a fine forehand, but can do nothing about the second as she sends a return long. It was Venus’s 10th break opportunity of the set and you fear that could be curtains for Kuznetsova.

“Venus can hit a winner from anywhere on the court. Behind the baseline, mid-court, at the net – it doesn’t matter and there’s little you can do to combat it.”
BBC Sport pundit Sam Smith

Kuznetsova 3-6 2-2 Venus
To add to Kuznetsova’s worries, she’s now suffering badly from hayfever eyes. As regular readers of my waffle would know, I also suffer from what can only be described as the least masculine affliction out there, and it can’t be pleasant watching a Venus forehand come towards through blurred vision. Perhaps Kuznetsova should just close her eyes and “use the force” Skywalker style. I’ll be honest, it might just give her more hope on Venus’s serve, who holds comfortably again to 15.

Kuznetsova 3-6 2-1 Venus
More stunning work from Venus, and Kuznetsova can only stop and applaud as the American comes out on top of another lengthy rally with a backhand overhead winner to move to 30-30. The Russian displays all her strength with yet another forehand winner, though – her ninth – and holds when a Venus backhand goes out by a hair’s breadth. Well, the breadth of a corn-rowed hair anyway.

Kuznetsova 3-6 1-1 Venus
Kuznetsova’s greatest hope might just be on Venus’s second serve, with the American drifting that in at around 70-80mph. Still, it makes little difference when your passing shots are as good as Venus’s and she holds to 15 with more winners from the baseline.

Kuznetsova 3-6 1-0 Venus
Kuznetsova begins to crumble in the face of Venus’s bludgeonous groundstrokes and slips to 0-40 down, but fair play to the Russian as she strides back to deuce with a volleyed winner and backhand pass. Venus, who is giving her vocal chords a rest for some reason, grabs four more break point opportunities, but twice Kuznetsova forces the error and the Russian then slams two forehand winners to peg Venus back time and again. The fifth seed’s belligerence pays off as she seals the set with an ace – courtesy of a successful challenge against an overrule. Remarkable game that.

“I don’t think Kuznetsova has any other choice than to keep plugging away and keep going for the lines. She’s playing brilliantly and showing real mental strength, but Venus is really on top of her game.”
BBC Sport pundit Sam Smith

FIRST SET

Kuznetsova 3-6 Venus
With Serena looking on, and with not the subtlest hint of sheer jealousy in her eyes, Venus seals the set with another superb hold to 15. Barry Davies and Sam Smith are positively gushing over the quality of the American’s tennis in that set and it’s hard to argue. Kuznetsova can only hope that the 27-year-old’s form drops a little in the second, because otherwise this could be over pretty quickly.

Kuznetsova 3-5 Venus
Kuznetsova ensures Venus must serve for the set with a brilliant hold to love.

“I like what I’m seeing from Kuznetsova, I really am. She’s having to survive such a blistering attack from Venus Williams, but she’s hanging in there and, with a bit more luck, she would be on level pegging.”
BBC Sport pundit Sam Smith

Kuznetsova 2-5 Venus
A glimmer for Kuznetsova as a Venus double fault helps her to 30-15 up on the American’s serve, but the Russian sends two returns into the net to give away the initiative. Venus holds with an unreturnable serve and the 27-year-old has upped the decibel level on her grunts and screams to such an extent, that anyone unaware that tennis is being played in SW19 might suspect they have stumbled upon some kind of medieval torture chamber. It’s not nice.

Kuznetsova 2-4 Venus
Venus Williams is producing some superlative tennis out there, and Kuznetsova is having to dig so deep to hang on in there, she’s delving through molten lava. Full credit to her, though, as she battles her way to a hold to 30, thanks in the main to two brilliant forehand winners.

“To be fair, Kuznetsova must be wondering how the scoreline looks as it does, because she’s been playing some wonderful tennis of her own. It’s just that Venus looks indominatable right now.”
BBC Sport commentator Barry Davies

Kuznetsova 1-4 Venus
Venus consolidates the break with a hold to 15, Kuznetsova struggling to keep the ball in court from a number of big, big serves and the American sealing the game in superb fashion, bullying her way to the net and bludgeoning a winner into the open court.

“What an amazing game face Venus Williams has, you really can never read her.”
BBC Sport pundit Sam Smith

Kuznetsova 1-3 Venus
Venus, snarling and grunting with a level of aggression that belies her softly-spoken persona off the court, goes through another Kuznetsova service game without missing a return. Remarkable. Two unforced errors from the Russian bring the American break point, and Venus makes the most of a poor volley at the net from Kuznetsova to forehand smash a winner down the line.

Kuznetsova 1-2 Venus
Venus, decked out in stupidly small hot pants that you wouldn’t allow your daughters to be seen dead in, brings out the grunt early to overhead-smash her way through another fine rally. Her second ace of the match brings her game point and another unreturnable serve seals it to 30. Venus has yet to make an unforced error, while in just three games the girls have already shared 11 winners – great stuff.

Kuznetsova 1-1 Venus
The lovely Sam Smith could well be right, you know. Every point is being hotly contested with both girls finding their timing early on. Kuzza finds two big backhand winners to seal the game to 15 but Venus already looks determined to pressure the Russian’s serve.

“This has got the makings of such a high quality match. Venus knows all about what it takes to win matches at Wimbledon, but Kuznetsova has been in sparkling form of late. It could be classic.”
BBC Sport pundit Sam Smith

Kuznetsova 0-1 Venus
The power of the Russian tells first up, with Kuznetsova striking the ball with such power and timing that Venus can barely hang onto the fifth seed’s corn rows early on. Tow forehand winners bring Kuzza two break points, but the American pulls out a couple of big serves and snatches four points in a row to hold.

1110: We’re about to get started here people. Kuznetsova currently edged the head-to-head by three wins to two and, as fifth seed, is favourite again out there. Here we go…

1106: The girls are out warming up in slightly overcast conditions, with merely a handful of supporters out in force on Centre Court. That may be due to the problems on the Central Line that befell me this morning, which forced me to get on a bus to get to work. A bus I tell you – what on earth? The standard mode of transport for students and OAPs and there’s me, BBC journalist extraordinaire, forced to mix with the masses. It was not pleasant.

1100 BST: Ok ladies and gentlemen…the Williams’s assault on Wimbledon is down to one following Serena’s exit to Justine Henin on Wednesday, and you can bet daddy Richard will not tolerate another early exit for a daughter, the mad dog that he is.

Venus against Kuznetsova might not have had top billing before the tournament started, but it’s down to these two to get what should be a decent day’s tennis under way with a bang on Centre Court.
Story from BBC SPORT

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