After updating us about the semifinal between Svetlana Kuznetsova and Timea Bacsinszky straight from Miami, Karen Helf provides a summary of the second semifinal, the one between Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber.
The second Miami Open women’s semifinal took place Thursday night, as No. 8 Victoria Azarenka took the court against current No. 3 Angelique Kerber. This two-set battle lasted just over 90 minutes with Victoria coming out on top 6-2, 7-5. The Belarusian advances to the Miami singles final where she will play No. 19 Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Head-to-head, Victoria had the edge, owning 6 wins of 7 meetings with Kerber. However, Angelique’s 2016 climb to No. 2 in February, along with her 2016 Grand Slam victory, made the playing field seem level. Kerber wore heavy taping on her thigh. Just weeks ago, Angelique pulled out of Dubai, citing a thigh injury. In press, Kerber indicated that the tape was more precautionary than indicative of a current physical problem.
Despite her 2016 Australian Open win, Angelique has thus far been unable to back up that success. Meanwhile Indian Wells champion Victoria has been making her return to form and clearly has her sights on the top spot. In press this week, she stated, "I am only interested in one number." Point made.
First Set Recap – 39 Minutes
The two traded breaks early during their first service games. After that, Victoria dominated, going for aggressive shots, coming in and looking confident from any court position. She won the next four service games to go up 5-1. Kerber held to 5-2. Vika closed out her next service game and the set 6-2. Her first serve percentage was 76% and she only needed to play four service games to take the set. Her return stats were also strong, lending proof to the success of aggressive tactics.
Second Set Recap – 51 Minutes
The second set contained several momentum shifts. Kerber came out fighting, looking like the Australian Open champion. Both players held their first service games. After that they traded breaks of serve for the next five games. Both players were striking the ball well and placing shots in the corners and down the line. Victoria was also finding success coming to net.
Vika took back control in her fourth service game, capturing all points to go up 5-3. Angelique would not give up. She held her next service game and followed that up with a break to stay in the match at 5-4. Victoria’s next service game is one she would not doubt like to erase. With chances to close the set and match, she largely gave this game to Kerber with three double-faults. The score now 5-5. Victoria changed her racquet, perhaps to change her luck or break the pattern.
Something did indeed shift. Victoria broke Angelique to go up 6-5. She successfully closed out her final service game, set and match. 6-2, 7-5. Victoria captured 74 points of the match total, 129.
Miami Open WTA Final
Tune in Saturday, April 2nd as Victoria takes on Svetlana Kuznetsova for the singles title. Both players are former Miami champions. Svetlana last won Miami in 2006, beating Amelie Mauresmo in the semifinals and Maria Sharapova in the final, while Victoria won in 2011, also beating Maria in the final.