A third set that, like the first two, featured multiple service breaks saw Kuznetsova take a 4-2 lead before Vesnina broke for 4-3 then won a marathon ninth game in which Kuznetsova saved four break points before Vesnina converted her fifth with a stinging service winner to find herself serving for the match. "I was too far from the court, and I was running all the way, way behind, so the only thing I could do was defend. "I think that's why I lost." The victory continues Vesnina's rise of the last year.After knocking a forehand wide on her first match point, she secured the victory when Kuznetsova's service return went long. She reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 2016 and is no stranger to the big stage in doubles, in which she captured Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro.Kuznetsova won both the first three (all in 2007) and the most recent three, and leads 3-2 at Slams and 13-4 overall.On grass they are tied at 1-1, though they haven't played on the surface since Radwanska's 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 win in the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2008.
Another early break in the second piled the pressure on Kuznetsova, the 32-year-old Russian with two grand slam titles to her name who was appearing in the quarter-finals for the first time in 10 years, and she was rarely able to threaten.
With her Kremlin Cup win veteran Kuznetsova, 31, leapfrogged Johanna Konta of Great Britain to take the last spot in next week's WTA finals.
Moscow-born Gavrilova, who was playing in her first WTA tour final, started in a lively fashion, breaking early for a 2-0 lead, but Kuznetsova broke back on three occasions to take the opening set in 43 minutes.
Even if tennis fans cheer the return of Maria Sharapova, her rivals are conflicted.
The five-time Grand Slam champion is set to return to competition in April after serving a 15-month suspension for a drug violation.