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"People were saying, 'Oh, you should retire and stuff.' Nobody can decide it but me," she said. (AP Photo)

Two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova says that although she hasn't won a Premier-level tournament since 2009 (China Open), she always believed that would have more chances at a big title. After upsetting Maria Sharapova in the semifinals in Madrid, the 29-year-old Russian lost to Petra Kvitova in the final.  

Kuznetsova said that over the years, many people have criticized her for her erratic play. “I saw many people doubting me, but I didn't have doubts that I'm able to do that,” Kuznetsova said. “After I won [the 2004] US Open people were doubting me that I can win another Slam. After I won [the 2009 French Open], people were saying, 'Oh, you should retire and stuff.' Nobody can decide it but me. I love the game. I work hard. The people who talk that, they have no idea.

"Also, then I look to Roger [Federer] and people say he should retire. These people have no idea what they're talking about. There is lots of opinions. We don't have to look at the opinions of that people. The people were saying that Roger would never win French (he won it in 2009), and I can go on and on what people say. After the players show opposite, so I don't care what they say.”

Kuznetsova will rise to No. 18 in the WTA rankings after winning five matches in Madrid, including victories over Ekaterina Makarova and Maria Sharapova. “I didn't doubt myself and I was fighting hard and I was playing,” she said. “It's small difference. Like this tournament, maybe I could have lost to [Sam] Stosur or [Garbine] Muguruza or [Lucie] Safarova. She was match points up. So it's tiny change from being somewhere to nowhere. These changes, I beat [Angelique] Kerber in Miami that year and Kerber won Charleston and Stuttgart. It's crazy, but this is a game. Every day you have new opportunity and each week can change you something.”

Last week, Kuznetsova lost in the first round of Prague, a relatively minor tournament compared to Madrid. “I woke up yesterday after my nap and I was like, 'Is it for real? Am I in the finals?” she said. “Because I haven't been here for a long time, and I feel like I can do this and I belong here. When I see like I be losing and I have no opportunities I would maybe stop. As long as I enjoy and I can bring on the court great game, why not play.”

SUNDAY, MAY 10, 2015 /by