Reigning champion Svetlana Kuznetsova accused the new generation of players of not showing enough respect on Wednesday after narrowly avoiding an early exit from the French Open.
The Russian sixth seed held on by her fingernails against 22-year-old German Andrea Petkovic, saving four match points before claiming a 4-6 7-5 6-4 victory on Court One.
Afterwards the 24-year-old double grand slam champion took a swipe at the teenagers trying to dislodge the likes of herself, the Williams sisters and Kim Clijsters in the rankings.
“You know what I think?” Kuznetsova told reporters when asked why only one teenager was ranked in the world’s top 25. “All the teenagers, they come or their parents or their agents or someone or they think they’re so good.
“I don’t see them respecting the other players like we did when we came here.
“I was respecting — I played Kim Clijsters. For me, it was huge. I played Justine Henin, and you’re like wow! They’re big. You have respect. You want to be like them.
“(They) come and they see themselves equal and it’s not like that, you know. These girls have done so much for tennis.
“Also I don’t see them physically and mentally as prepared.”
Kuznetsova battled grimly to turn around the match against Petkovic when all seemed lost with the German serving at 5-4, 40-0 having won the first set.
Petkovic suddenly went to pieces on the match points and a relieved Kuznetsova scraped into the third round where she faces fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko.
“At 40-0 down I was thinking, I really want to be here. This is really what I want most. The one thing in the world I want is to be here right now,” she said.
“I saw that she got tight and then I thought, okay, I have to take my chances.”
Kuznetsova also wobbled serving at 5-3 in the decider as Petkovic broke back but she sealed victory on her fourth match point in the next game when her opponent drilled a backhand over the baseline.
(Editing by Justin Palmer; To query or comment on this story email email@example.com)