By Robert Woodward
PARIS (Reuters) - After overcoming fifth seed Petra Kvitova in a claycourt street fight on Saturday, Svetlana Kuznetsova considered whether the cycles of life meant this was her year to win the French Open again.
The Russian won at Roland Garros in 2009, five years after claiming the U.S. Open title, so maybe it is her time to win again in 2014.
“Everybody talks about it, but it's still too far, still only third round. I prefer to leave it out there,” she said with a smile after reaching the last 16 at Roland Garros.
Her three-hour match with Kvitova left both players exhausted after a series of long, full-blooded rallies. The Czech former Wimbledon champion took two timeouts to have her right thigh treated and ended the tussle with it heavily bandaged.
“I left out there everything I could,” said Kuznetsova. “The match turned around many times and I just hung in there and did my best.
“I feel really good, I feel really excited. I really feel almost like Rafa (Nadal) out there.”
Kvitova was the fourth of the top five seeds to exit the tournament, opening it up to a younger generation of players and also to those, like Kuznetsova, who have experience on their side.
“When I was a bit younger, I came here and I was feeling ‘Oh, I’m in such good shape, I have a plan, I have a chance’, and I would lose in the quarters or even earlier.
“So as the years go by, I feel I don’t have to start the tournament on the high notes. It’s important just to go match by match. Thinking about how the tournament will go – it’s not worth it. I try not to think.”
Kuznetsova is aware that in another five years, her career may be over like that of the woman she beat in the 2009 final, Dinara Safina. Safina, a former world number one who never won a grand slam title, retired this year due to a long-term back injury.
“Sometimes life is like this, so that’s why you have to live every moment the best you can on the court or anywhere in your life,” said the 28-year-old Kuznetsova, .
“We are not machines. But here I am, I have won two slams, I have been No.2 but I have not been No.1.
“I could have been better, I could have been worse. You never know where it goes.”
(Reporting by Robert Woodward, editing by Pritha Sarkar)