WTA Miami Open, Semi-Final Preview: Timea Bacsinszky v Svetlana Kuznetsova

Bacsinszky

In an unlikely yet intriguing semi-final, Timea Bacsinszky will take on Svetlana Kuznetsova on Thursday for a place in the final of the 2016 Miami Open.

Bacsinszky has come good in Miami after losing five of her first six matches in 2016. There were positive signs in Doha and Indian Wells where Bacsinszky won back-to-back matches, but the Swiss player has fully announced herself in Miami with four victories… and they’ve all been excellent wins. Bacsinszky defeated Margarita Gasparyan (6-3 6-1) and Ana Ivanovic (7-5 6-4)  through the first two rounds, and then came from a set down to seal back-to-back top five wins over Agnieszka Radwanska (2-6 6-4 6-2) and Simona Halep (4-6 6-3 6-2).

Much like the match against Radwanska, Bacsinszky started slow in her quarter-final against Halep. The Romanian player was in control early on and didn’t seem troubled by Bacsinszky’s game, taking advantage of some loopy forehand balls. Halep was struggling to put Bacsinszky away but was constructing the points nicely and was good value for the opening set, 6-4. Bacsinszky fought back at the start of the second set and after an exchange of breaks, managed to consolidate to lead *4-1. Halep provided some resistance at the end of the set, producing one amazing forehand pass, but Bacsinszky hung onto force a decider.

From there on, the Swiss player was the more aggressive player, drilling the backhand and moving Halep from side-to-side. It was a strangely passive and emotionless (despite the racquet throw at the end of the second set) third set from Halep. She relied heavily on her coach, Darren Cahill and gave him almost nothing to work with in their last changeover chat, barely uttering a word. Halep couldn’t break down Bacsinszky’s forehand and made very little impression on return. Timea’s celebrations are always lovely to see as it shows how much these wins mean to her, particularly after her struggles at the start of the year.

It’s been a good week in Miami for the women with a handful of excellent matches; one of those was Svetlana Kuznetsova’s quarter-final victory over Ekaterina Makarova, 6-7(3) 6-4 6-3 in two hours and 43 minutes. While both players were a little shaky in the key moments, it was a very entertaining battle with some high-quality hitting. Kuznetsova looked to have wrapped up the first set, up *5-2 *40-0; however it was Makarova who mounted a substantial comeback, saving four set points with Kuznetsova failing to serve out the set on three occasions.

The turnaround was a little from both sides with Makarova tidying up her game and managing to break through Kuznetsova’s spirited defence. Kuznetsova did well to put the disappointment of losing the first set behind her in the second set. While she failed to serve out a set for the fourth time at *5-3 (although that had a lot to do with Makarova who converted on break point with an incredible on-the-run forehand winner down the line), Makarova couldn’t carry that momentum into the next game with Kuznetsova breaking for the set, 6-4.

The third set continued in much the same vein with some super rallies and plenty of breaks. Both players lost their serve with a double fault down break point. However, it was Kuznetsova who was a touch more solid with Makarova just starting to miss the lines. While Kuznetsova was broken up 4-2, she won a huge five-deuce game at 4-3. And at the fifth time of asking, Kuznetsova finally served out a set! I hope that Makarova will not be too disheartened by this loss as she showed some of her best form in a long, long time in Miami..

Head-to-head record: Kuznetsova leads the head-to–head, 2-0, with victories in Montreal (7-6 (6) 6-4, 2010) and Indian Wells (6-3 2-0 ret., 2012). It’s worth noting that both wins came before Bacsinszky’s big breakthrough on tour.

Interesting stat(s): Both Kuznetsova and Bacsinszky reached a Premier Mandatory final in 2015; Kuznetsova beat Maria Sharapova en route to the final in Madrid while Bacsinszky was a finalist in Beijing. For Kuznetsova, she has won all four of her matches in Miami in three sets and has come back from a set down in the last three matches.

Final thoughts: This is another Miami match-up where it is tough to separate both players, particularly in such an unexpected semi-final. Kuznetsova has impressed this week with her battling qualities and tenacious defence. The Russian player has not always been the most convincing in tight moments and this was the case against Makarova, four times failing to serve out sets… yet she bounced back in style! The surface also suits her game and she’s a former Miami champ from 2006. Bacsinszky too has been plucky, improving dramatically from start to finish in her last two wins over Radwanska and Halep. Because of the way she has managed to adapt to situations this week, i’m going for Bacsinszky in three.

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17 thoughts on “WTA Miami Open, Semi-Final Preview: Timea Bacsinszky v Svetlana Kuznetsova

  1. The Makarova v Kuznetsova match is my favourite of the tournament. I saw the score before I watched the replay and thought perhaps Kuznetsova had struggled to back up a big win but this was not the case. Yes they both had minor dips in levels at times, but mostly it was a high HIGH level of superb defence and even better attacking. The winners they both came up with when down was just insane and I honestly dont know how Svetlana had anything left at the end.
    If it was Halep I’d be betting on Sveta gearing herself up for another tough win. But she must be so tired and I don’t think she’ll have the same eagerness to beat Timea as she would win Simona. I reckon Bacsinszky wins in straight sets.

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    • Couldn’t agree more, it was a great match! There’s been a lot of good matches this week in Miami. Muguruza-Azarenka stands out and I also really enjoyed Konta-Vesnina and Ivanovic-Bacsinszky.

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      • You enjoyed Ivanovic v Bacsinszky? They both played well in patches but never at the same time. I think Ana choked big time in that one.

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      • So, may I ask what is the definition of “CHOKE” here? I remember James said it was not the right definition to use for someone who lost a match.

        Ana was outplayed by Timea. So, she lost. Period.

        (I expect a double standards of “Choke” definition…lol)

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      • Not using the word choke is more of a personal thing to me, I just don’t like the word! I also feel it gets overused in certain situations.

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      • Frank, it seems like you only crawl out of the woodwork when I mention Ivanovic.
        I define choking in this case as her playing herself to a winning position twice and then missing routine shots because of being tight.

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      • I think a choke is also a very subject call. But it really depends on the Player.

        When you start seeing the double fault serves at crucial points, the overhead smashes into the net, the easy returns dumped into the net, the facial expressions, things which are uncharacteristic of the player in a dominant position, I guess a choke is close by, if not already here. A player like Kvitova, I don’t call chokes on but technically they are that. With her it is part and parcel of her game. For some, it is dramatic, you can obviously see that the nerves are shot to pieces and nothing seems right. Can’t even see the ball clearly. There are cases like Maria, whose chokes, I believe manifest themselves in that excessive over hitting and going for broke on every possible shot. So, different strokes for different folks really.

        One girl’s choke, is another girl’s lull or letdown, is another girl’s throwing all in (kitchen sink included) is another girl’s over reaching, is another girl’s strategy to get her wind back to counter attack, and yes, it’s actually another’s cry for help (like literally, I’m losing my marbles here somebody, help!).

        My biggest ‘choke’ is still Hingis, cause she made such an impression on me as a kid watching her refusing to even come for the trophy presentation when she lost to Steffi. I think it was 1999.

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  2. I am going to vote with my heart,Sveta to win,she has played some Vintage Sveta Tennis this tournament,I do agree with Andrew she must be tired.I am delighted that Timea has had a great tournament,considering the amount of injuries she has had so far in career,really enjoyed her match with Halep.

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  3. Pingback: Timea Bacsinszky - Page 210 - TennisForum.com

    • Agreed, Sveta is the stronger player (and in many, many match-ups) but sometimes that not always the deciding factor. Mentally though, she was great today.

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  4. Well done Sveta into the final with a straight sets win over Timea 75 63,very hot day,loved the way Sveta went after Timea’s bhand and got error’s,went for her shots when it mattered.A good tournament for Timea,though her return game let her down against Sveta,a area she needs to work on.

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  5. Just when I bet against her LOL.

    I am feeling somewhat smug about predicting her to have a good run this year after Moscow and saying she’d have a crack at going top ten. Even if she loses in the finals against Kerber or Vika she only really has Madrid points to defend over the coming months and Maria’s spot is up for grabs soon.

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    • Lol I was really surprised that you went against her! But still, I remember you giving her a shot against Serena and I wasn’t feeling it. Just watched back the match, she was clutch on the big points. That BH winner at 5-5 *30-40 was sensational!

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      • Yeah its always annoyed me that the WTA often ignores her for their monthly hot shot polls. Her hot dog against Pavs in Moscow last year wasnt even nominated I dont think… This week she’s hit some insane shots that Radwanska would be envious of.

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      • Yeah they always miss out good ones. Konta’s hit a couple of crackers this week against Vesnina and Azarenka but I haven’t found them anywhere.

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