Shortly after losing in the first round of the Italian Open, Svetlana Kuznetsova decided to make a change.
With a straight-set win in the opening round of the French Open already complete, it looks like it was a change for the better.
The 2009 French Open champion has struggled since winning her second Grand Slam title at Roland Garros. But after the disappointing loss in Rome two weeks ago, the 26th-seeded Russian started training with Hernan Gumy, the Argentine coach who previously worked with Marat Safin.
''I really enjoy working with him,'' said Kuznetsova, who beat Mirjana Lucic of Croatia 6-1, 6-3 Sunday. ''He's, I think, someone who I was looking for for a very long time. I understand him perfectly.''
Kuznetsova won the U.S. Open in 2004 and reached a career-high No. 2 ranking in 2007. But she has reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament only once since her title at Roland Garros. She dropped out of the top 10 in 2010 and won her last singles title in Carlsbad, California, that same year.
''I work very hard day to day,'' Kuznetsova said. ''I want to go back to my level.''
Playing in Paris reminds Kuznetsova of the great champion she once was. She even took advice from 2004 French Open champion Anastasia Myskina a year ago in the hope of repeating her successful feats.
''I love this tournament,'' Kuznetsova said. ''Even before I won, I always enjoy coming here. It's (a) special atmosphere here.''
On Sunday, Kuznetsova won eight straight games to take the first set and lead 3-0 in the second. She was soon broken twice but then won the next three games to close out the match.
''I was doing what I planned to do before the match with my coach,'' Kuznetsova said. ''Just at some stage, the match turned around a little bit ... Then I had to fight back at 3-all.''