Former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka showed she may not be far from the top spot at some time in the future, on Saturday in the women’s final of the Miami Open defeating Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-2.
The first set was an up and down affair as Azarenka repeatedly went up a break and gave it back. After failing to serve it out at 5-2, she closed out the set with a break in the next game 6-3. In the second set she rolled out to a large lead before some Kuznetova fight-back, closing it out at 6-2.
“I’m so happy to see you again in top form producing some great tennis,” Azarenka told Kuznetova during the trophy ceremony. “I want to thank my team for pushing me so hard — teamwork makes the dream work, that’s what we say.”
For Kuznetsova it was a return to the Miami Open for the first time in 10 years, after 2006 when she beat Martina Hingis, Amelie Mauresmo and Maria Sharapova en route to the title at age 20.
“I would like to congratulate Victoria for a such as great job over the last two weeks and today,” said Kuznetsova, who garnered applause for speaking some Spanish to the crowd. “Also I hope to be here next year and that the tournament will be here [in Miami].”
Azarenka is now 22-1 on the year, with her only loss coming to Angie Kerber, who she beat Thursday in the semifinals. She lost to Kerber in January in the semifinals of the Australian Open.
Kuznetsova said earlier in the week that some extra fitness training helped her after Indian Wells.
“After I had a loss in Indian Wells I tried to work a lot and training every morning a lot just to get confidence back, get my fitness,” the Russian said of coming into the Miami Open. “I’m doing better. I appreciate, I am blessed I have my body to play so many years and to win against good players, top players.”
With Azarenka winning Indian Wells and Miami back-to-back, and world No. 1 Serena Williams without a title in 2016, the Belarussian’s early run begins discussions as to when the top spot will be challenged this year.
After the Indian Wells-Miami double victory, Azarenka joins Steffi Graf (1994, 1996) and Kim Clijsters (2005) as the only three players in WTA history to win the back-to-back events.
“I’m very happy that all the work I’ve been putting in has been paying off,” Azarenka told ESPN afterwards. “[Today] was pretty tough conditions with it being so hot…This just give me even more inspiration and motivation to work even harder.”
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