Svetlana Kuznetsova celebrated her 23rd birthday today with a battling victory over Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the third round at Wimbledon.
The fourth seed overcame two bouts of nerves and a lengthy rain delay to post a 6-2 6-4 result against the Czech qualifier in one hour and 19 minutes.
Kuznetsova made a tense start on Court Two, facing a break point in her opening service game, but she was spared having to play catch-up when Strycova hit a return long.
Kuznetsova carved out three break points in the sixth game and although the first two went begging, a brief loss of composure from Strycova – who was given a warning for swearing at a line judge – allowed the fourth seed to open up a lead with a smashed volley.
The qualifier was showing signs of frustration on almost every point and Kuznetsova produced a well-executed drop shot to clinch the opening set in just 35 minutes.
A double-fault from the 22-year-old Czech gifted Kuznetsova another break in the second game to stretch the Russian’s winning run to six games.
The temperamental Strycova’s inconsistency returned in the 10th game when, facing two match points, she produced a double-fault to hand the win to her opponent.
Afterwards, Kuznetsova revealed she had already made plans for a double-celebration this evening.
“Hopefully, I’ll get out of Wimbledon village and into London later. Go out with some friends and have a good time, although not too a good time otherwise that would be the end of Wimbledon for me.”
There was nothing to celebrate for last year’s losing finalist Marion Bartoli, who was beaten in straight sets to American Bethanie Mattek.
Bartoli, was beaten by Venus Williams in the 2007 final after shocking Justine Henin in the semis, lost 6-4 6-1 to Mattek, who now takes on Serena Williams in the next round.
A slightly shocked Mattek, 23, said: “This is my best result in a grand slam by far, it’s pretty cool being able to beat the finalist. She’s a good player and she’s tough on grass.
“I haven’t played Serena in a couple of years – it’ll come down to serving big and sneaking the break.”
Eighth seed Anna Chakvetadze came through in straight sets 6-4 6-3 against fellow Russian Evgeniya Rodina and will now face Nicole Vaidisova, the 18th seed, in the last 16.
The 19-year-old Czech came past Australia’s Casey Dellacqua 6-2 6-4 and admitted she is reaping the benefits of working with British coach David Felgate, Tim Henman’s former mentor.
“He’s a very positive guy, very patient,” Vaidisova said.
“It’s just exciting to do things a little differently. It’s a good challenge for both of us.”
Agnes Szavay set up a last-16 meeting with Jie Zheng, the surprise conqueror of top seed Ana Ivanovic, after beating Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain in three sets 7-6 (7/5) 2-6 6-2.