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Tennis: Kuznetsova ends four-year WTA title drought

Svetlana Kuznetsova, a two-time Grand Slam champion, snapped a four-year WTA title drought Sunday (August 3) by outlasting Japan's Kurumi Nara 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to win the WTA Washington Open.

WASHINGTON: Svetlana Kuznetsova, a two-time Grand Slam champion, snapped a four-year WTA title drought Sunday (August 3) by outlasting Japan's Kurumi Nara 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to win the WTA Washington Open.

The 29-year-old Russian had not won a title since August of 2010 at San Diego but Kuznetsova, 20 times a WTA runner-up, broke Nara in the final game to collect her 14th career crown. "It feels like it has been too long," Kuznetsova said. "You really miss this feeling. It's a nice feeling."

Kuznetsova, the 2004 US Open and 2009 French Open winner, had not reached a WTA final since 2011 until May in Oerias, Portugal. "It's nice to get to the finals, but four years I've been struggling a lot. Now I'm playing much better, serving much better, moving much better," said Kuznetsova. "I work hard every day. You try to do your best. It's a great feeling."

Kuznetsova took the $43,000 (32,000 euro) top prize, while Nara collected $21,400 (15,935 euros). Nara, 22, won her first WTA title earlier this year at Rio de Janeiro and is set to surpass her career high of 38th in the rankings.

"I was playing very well," Nara said. "I did my best. I am disappointed but I have no regrets." Kuznetsova had never played Nara before and had seen only a handful of her points in matches this week. "I just came out there and tried to figure out how she plays," Kuznetsova said. "She plays a lot of spin, especially for a Japanese player. She runs and moves well."

Kuznetsova was up 3-0 in the second set but Nara rallied to win the next five games and eventually forced a third set against her larger, more experienced foe. "She hits a very heavy ball so I can't go easily inside the court," Nara said. "I tried more offensive play. But she was playing good."

Sixth-seeded Kuznetsova saved a break point late in the third set and broke Nara in the final game to win after two hours, 16 minutes. "At 5-4 on my serve I tried to focus again," Nara said. "But she was playing very well."

Kuznetsova, who did not go to sleep until 3 am after a late semi-final, was fighting off flashbacks of the final in Oeiras, which she led 4-1 in the third set before losing to Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro.

"I got a little paralyzed," Kuznetsova said. "I got a little tight. I was able to come back. So many things inside your head but you try to put it back. I was just trying to hang in there and win my serves. I didn't think about not having the titles, but it's always great to win one. It's a very special feeling."

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