PARIS, June 2 – Russian seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova says she won't be intimidated by American world number two Serena Williams when the two go head-to-head for a place in the French Open semi-finals on Wednesday.Williams has a 5-1 career record against the 23-year-old Russian, but Kuznetsova, a runner-up at Roland Garros in 2006, said the pair were too close for there to be any thoughts of fear in her mind.
"I respect her a lot," said Kuznetsova, who picked up her first career title in two years on the Stuttgart clay in April.
"She’s achieved an unbelievable amount in tennis. Every player dreams about achieving what she’s done in tennis.
"Outside of the courts, she has a great personality. We text on BlackBerry.
"Definitely in these tournaments we talk less, but we listen to similar music and we have similar interests. We laugh a lot.
"Maybe before, when I first came onto the tour, her and her sister Venus were kind of intimidating.
"But now, the players in the top five, top 10 don’t intimidate each other, because we face each other every week.
"I maybe don’t have a great record against Serena, but I really enjoy playing her. It’s always fun."
Williams encountered little resistance in her 6-1, 6-2 last-16 victory over Canadian 24th seed Aleksandra Wozniak on Monday, but says she expects the wily Kuznetsova to present a much stiffer challenge.
"Svetlana is playing unbelievable on clay and playing really good in this tournament," said Williams, who is bidding for her 11th career Grand Slam and her first at Roland Garros since 2002.
"I feel like I have nothing to lose. She’s coming here with high expectations, as am I, and I think it’ll be a great match."
The winner of Wednesday’s tie will take on either Australian 30th seed Samantha Stosur or unseeded 19-year-old Romanian Sorana Cirstea, who between them have put paid to the hopes of some of the biggest names in the draw.
Stosur sent Olympic champion and fourth seed Elena Dementieva of Russia packing in round three, while Cirstea has upset French 21st seed Alize Cornet, Danish 10th seed Caroline Wozniacki and Serbian fifth seed Jelena Jankovic.
Cirstea wowed the crowds on Court Suzanne Lenglen during her dramatic 3-6, 6-0, 9-7 dismantling of Jankovic on Monday and admitted that she has always had a taste for the limelight.
"I’ve always said that I love playing on big courts. I love having lots of people supporting me," said Cirstea, who became the first Romanian woman to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final since Irina Spirlea at the 1997 US Open.
Stosur, meanwhile, revealed that she knew little about her giant-killing adversary.
"We’ve never played. I’ve never practised with her, never even hit a ball against her," said the 25-year-old.
"It’ll be something completely new. My coach watched a few games of her match (against Jankovic) so we’ll have a chat about it. But I’ll focus more on my game than worry about hers."