In 2016, Svetlana Kuznetsova’s campaign got off to a near-perfect start as she captured the title in Sydney, Australia. However, the Russian was unable to build upon that run as she failed to win two matches in a row over her next four tournaments.

Hitting the second leg of the “Sunshine Double” in Miami, the 2006 champion finally broke that pattern by eliminating Carina Witthoft and Caroline Garcia after receiving a first-round bye.

Her next opponent, though, was of quite a different caliber.

For Serena Williams, the Miami Open center court might as well have been in her backyard. Since her first triumph there in 2002, the American had won the title seven more times—more than any other man or woman. In fact, Williams was aiming for her fourth title in a row, having won from 2013 to 2015.

Williams and Kuznetsova were both familiar with each other’s games, having faced each other 10 times in the past. Their most recent match came in Miami the year prior, with Williams taking that fourth-round encounter in straight sets.

Though they had some close battles, it had been several years since Kuznetsova was able to defeat her more accomplished opponent. Williams entered this match, though, with final-round losses in her only tournaments of the year at the Australian Open and Indian Wells, results that a veteran such as Kuznetsova could capitalize on.


In the first set, Williams jumped out to an early lead, but Kuznetsova rallied to force a tiebreaker. The world No. 1 captured it comfortably to take a one-set lead, but in the second, it was all Kuznetsova as the 16th seed dominated to level the match.

Her run continued into the decider as she took a 3-0 lead on a double break. Williams was able to regain one of them, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the upset as Kuznetsova defeated Williams for the first time since 2009 at the French Open. She would go on to win the title at Roland Garros that year for her second major singles title, but was unable to replicate that feat in Miami as Victoria Azarenka stopped her in the final.

Still, it was an impressive run for Kuznetsova, one that brought her back up the rankings to land right outside of the Top 10.