Azarenka avenges Kerber loss to reach Miami final

Fri Apr 1, 2016 12:04am EDT
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(Reuters) - In-form Victoria Azarenka battled past an ailing but determined second seed Angelique Kerber to set up a Miami Open final showdown against Svetlana Kuznetsova with a 6-2 7-5 victory on Thursday.

With the victory, the 13th-seeded Belarusian gained revenge for a quarter-final loss to the second-seeded German at the Australian Open, her only defeat of the season, but had to fight tooth and nail to earn it in a 94-minute tussle.

Kerber, who had her upper left leg covered in heavy strapping, looked dead and buried on several occasions in the second set but was able to stay alive with a gutsy break when Azarenka served for the match at 5-4.

Parity was short-lived, however, as Kerber handed back the break in the next game and Azarenka did not waste another opportunity to seal the deal to move one win away from a third Miami title and second straight tournament triumph.

"I am very happy I stayed really strong in the end and actually started really well," Azarenka, who beat Serena Williams to claim the Indian Wells title on March 20, said in a courtside interview.

"I started to dictate (early) and I think the beginning was really important," she added of the victory over the Australian Open champion.


"She's such a fighter and an amazing player. I'm glad I kept pushing and kept trying to break her rhythm. Glad I stayed really strong.   Continued...

Mar 30, 2016; Key Biscayne, FL, USA; Victoria Azarenka reaches for a backhand against Johanna Konta (not pictured) during day ten of the Miami Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center.  Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports