Svetlana Kuznetsova received a code violation for on-court coaching as she produced a stirring comeback to reach the Wimbledon fourth round for the first time in eight years with a 6-7(1) 6-2 8-6 win over American Sloane Stephens on Sunday.
After Stephens had taken a 2-1 lead in the decider, the Russian lost her temper with Serbian umpire Marijana Veljovic when the official accused Kuznetsova of receiving illegal coaching from Carlos Martinez, who was sat in the players’ box.
“I bet you all my prize money he didn’t say anything,” Kuznetsova yelled.
The exchange continued well into the change of ends with the seething 13th seed declaring: “You’re not doing well.”
The distraction appeared to have completely thrown Kuznetsova off stride in a highly-entertaining match as she allowed Stephens, seeded 18th, to take a 5-2 lead.
But just when it seemed as if the controversy would cost her dear, Kuznetsova produced the kind of form that carried her to two grand slam titles and won six of the next seven games.
Stevens had broken for a 4-2 lead, served for the match at 5-3 but in the end she was powerless to stop Kuznetsova from booking a last-16 showdown with champion Serena Williams.
“It was an amazing match,” said Kuznetsova, who has never advanced beyond the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and had only won one match at the All England Club in her last three visits.
“We fought for every ball and I was 5-2 down in the third set but I hung in there. It was incredible.
“I have difficult friendship with the grass. This year and every year I try to convince myself that I can do well. Last year I didn’t take them. This year it went better.”
While coaches are allowed to come on court and give a pep talk to their players during WTA Tour-level tournaments, the practice is not allowed at grand slam tournaments.
The only time players can have access to their mentors during a match is if they have been called off court following a suspension such as a rain delay.
On Sunday, however, Kuznetsova felt Veljovic had punished her unfairly.
“I was really frustrated (about the code violation) because she warned me in the first set,” added Kuznetsova, who triumphed at the U.S. Open in 2004 and at Roland Garros five years later.
“So I asked her ‘did you hear him coach? And she said ‘no’. So I asked her ‘what’s the reason’? And she said ‘because he talks a lot!’
“And then (my coach) says ‘come on keep going’ and I get a warning. It’s really frustrating as it’s a big moment and it’s a big fine for nothing.
“I lost my momentum for a few games but then I got myself back.”
Results from the Wimbledon Women’s Singles Round 3 matches on Sunday
Ekaterina Makarova (Russia) beat 24-Barbora Strycova (Czech Republic) 6-4 6-2
13-Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) beat 18-Sloane Stephens (U.S.) 6-7(1) 6-2 8-6
1-Serena Williams (U.S.) beat Annika Beck (Germany) 6-3 6-0
Elena Vesnina (Russia) beat Julia Boserup (U.S.) 7-5 7-5
21-Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia) beat 11-Timea Bacsinszky (Switzerland) 6-3 6-2
27-CoCo Vandeweghe (U.S.) beat 6-Roberta Vinci (Italy) 6-3 6-4