MIAMI, FL, USA - Former World No.2 Svetlana Kuznetsova recovered from a hotly contested opening set to earn her first victory over top seed Serena Williams since 2009, upsetting the 21-time Grand Slam champion in the fourth round of the Miami Open, 6-7(3), 6-1, 6-2.
"I'm really thrilled," Kuznetsova told Andrew Krasny during her on-court interview. "I'm sorry, fans who are disappointed that Serena's not going to keep playing, but for sure she'll be at more events than here.
"I'm really happy with my performance; I tried to stay at a good level the whole game, put as many balls back. I think I did that pretty well and I'm happy with the way I served today."
Beginning the season with a title at the Apia International Sydney, the two-time Grand Slam champion hadn't defeated a reigning World No.1 since winning the French Open almost seven years ago and needed three sets to beat both Carina Witthoeft and Caroline Garcia just to reach the fourth round. Narrowly missed out on a one-set lead after dropping the tie-break 7-3, a strong service game to start the second set her up in good stead against the American, going on to win 10 straight points between the second and third sets.
Serena gets one break back as Kuznetsova floats FH slice long. 3-1*.
Last time Serena lost as early as R16 in Miami: 2000 (l. Capriati).
? WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) March 28, 2016
Williams had reached the final in each of her two WTA appearances this season, but struggled to find her best form at a tournament she was looking to win for a ninth time. Earning two hard-foughts wins over Christina McHale and Zarina Diyas, she hit 43 winners on Monday but was undone by 50 unforced errors in the two hour match.
Kuznetsova was far more consistent throughout, hitting 27 winners to only 13 unforced and surviving a hiccup in the middle of the decider to serve out the upset on the first time of asking - starting the game with one of her eight aces.
"It's my profession; I play tennis and I have to do my job on the court. I was just focused on my game, just trying to do what I do best."
Into the quarterfinals for the first time since 2009, Kuznetsova next plays the winner of No.12 seed Elina Svitolina and No.30 seed Ekaterina Makarova - neither of whom had made their WTA main draw debut when the Russian last won in Miami in 2006.
"I'm too old! It was 10 years ago. I've been on this court many times. I love playing on this stage; the fans in my Miami are great. I love being back here and I'm really happy with my performance."
? WTA (@WTA) March 28, 2016