Our contributor Karen Helf has been enjoying the Miami Open live and now she found time to share with us her update from the semifinal between Svetlana Kuznetsova and Timea Bacsinszky.
Former WTA Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova is back into the Miami Open final after a 10-year absence. Currently ranked No. 19, Svetlana won the 2006 title, beating Maria Sharapova in the final. Along the way to the 2016 final, Svetlana took out No. 1 Serena Williams, fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova in a late night thriller, Caroline Garcia and Germany’s Carina Witthoeft.
Svetlana will take on No. 8 Victoria Azarenka or No. 2 Angelique Kerber in the title match. Either opponent poses a formidable challenge.
Timea Bacsinszky has had a very successful March. At Indian Wells she landed in the round of 16, losing to Daria Kasatkina of Russia. A Miami semifinal finish is an achievement for No. 20 Bacsinszky, who is back on her game after a string of injury-prone seasons, 2011, 2012, and 2013, specifically. Timea has made her mark on the 2015 tour and promises to retain her fighting spirit.
During her March 30th presser, Victoria Azarenka had this to say when asked about Svetlana.
She’s a great player. She’s super talented, a very diverse player. She’s never afraid of anybody or big stages. I think we’ve seen her struggle sometimes with some results, but she knows how to handle herself in big moments. Let’s not forget, she’s a two-time Grand Slam champion.
Clearly Vika will not underestimate Svetlana should she come out on top today.
I regret missing most of the first set that ended in favor of Kuznetsova 7-5. The second set had several exciting twist of breaks and break-back moments. A key game in the second set came at 5-3 with Svetlana on serve. Timea won the first point despite a split stretch reach by Kuznetsova. Next Svetlana evened the score to 15-15. Bacsinszky kept her stokes deep, earning the next point to 15-30. Next she pushed Svetlana side-to-side forcing an error going up 15-40.
This point was a huge moment for Timea, but she overcooked the next service return, letting Svetlana back into the game now 30-40. The game went to deuce after a Kuznetsova forehand winner. Bacsinszky did not give up, producing a punched forehand winner to gain the advantage. Ad point then flipped in Kuznetsova’s favor with a service winner. Bacsinszky challenged the call and lost, setting up match point. Svetlana was quick to close, winning the set and match, 7-5, 6-3.
Svetlana will face the winner of Kerber-Azarenka on Saturday, April 2nd. Come early, as the gates open at 10AM and traffic will be heavy. A Miami title is a high-reward opportunity for Svetlana, Azarenka or Kerber. This WTA final sets a battle with all three women hungry and ready for success.