Svetlana Kuznetsova secured the first Miami Open final spot after a hard-fought win over Timea Bacsinszky on Thursday.
WTA Staff

MIAMI, FL, USA - Former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova returned to the Miami Open final after a straight set win over Timea Bacsinszky on Thursday afternoon.

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It has been a taxing tournament for Kuznetsova, who had been taken to three sets in every round en route to the semifinals. However, against Bacsinszky she bucked the trend, completing a 7-5, 6-3 victory in a comparatively brisk one hour and 56 minutes.

"I am happy that I could hang in there and never let my hands down," Kuznetsova said afterwards. "I have not been feeling my best but I have been fighting every ball and just trying to run as much as I could.

"I enjoyed the fight and I'm happy I'm still able to play against the best in the world. I was praying to finish it in two sets so I would have a little more time to rest."

Ten years ago, a fresh-faced Kuznetsova defused Maria Sharapova to lift the Miami title, and she rolled back the years against Bacsinszky, playing with authority throughout. In an evenly contested opening set, it was the Russian that finished with a flourish, dragging her opponent to all corners of the court before guiding on overhead into the open space to close out the set.

Bacsinszky, meanwhile, was perhaps guilty of going for the lines too often, a couple of wayward backhands enabling Kuznetsova to break for a 4-2 lead in the second. Just as influential in her downfall was an inability to capitalize on her break opportunities, of which there were many. In the end, she spurned 12 break points, including four in the final game.

In the final Kuznetsova will face the winner of the evening blockbuster between No.2 seed Angelique Kerber and the in-form Victoria Azarenka. Victory there will take Kuznetsova back into the Top 10 for the first time in nearly six years.