MIAMI, FL, USA - Former No.1 Victoria Azarenka continues her climb back to the top, overpowering Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-2 in the final to claim the Miami Open title and secure her return to the WTA Top 5.
Azarenka, a two-time champion here in Miami, won her third title of 2016 in dominating fashion without dropping a set. Even more impressive, her back-to-back titles in Indian Wells and Miami complete the Sunshine Double, a feat last achieved 11 years ago.
The on-form Belarusian, who has only lost one match all year, broke in Kuznetsova's opening service game and quickly held for a 2-0 lead. That lone hold of serve would turn out to be vital, as Azarenka was able to weather the seven consecutive breaks that followed and still hang on to the lead.
In the second set Azarenka's powerful game came together as she wore down Kuznetsova from the baseline, running the Russian all over the court. Azarenka kept up the intensity throughout the match, hitting 23 winners to Kuznetsova's 8 while Kuznetsova struck 22 unforced errors to her opponent's 18.
? WTA (@WTA) April 2, 2016
After Azarenka claimed the match and the Miami title in an hour and 17 minutes, Kuznetsova had nothing but praise for her in-form opponent in her runner-up speech.
"I'd like to congratulate Victoria for doing such a good job this year and in these four weeks," Kuznetsova said, delighting the Miami crowd by delivering the speech in both English and Spanish.
Azarenka was similarly effusive in her praise for Kuznetsova, who she's played nine times since 2007.
"I want congratulate Sveta for the great result," Azarenka said. "I know you've had a lot of ups and downs in your career and I'm so happy to see you again in top form producing some great tennis."
The Belarusian also had an emotional dedication for the win, her twentieth career title:
"I want to dedicate this win to my family, for my parents, who I don't see very often but my parents taught me some really great things.
"They gave me roots so I always know where I come from and they gave me wings so I can fly, so I can be here. Thank you so much."