“It’s obviously disappointing,” Williams said. “But I’ve won here a lot, so it’s OK.”
Williams has definitely won in Miami a lot. She was campaigning for her ninth Miami title, and her fourth in a row. The last time she lost a match here was in 2012, and the only time she lost before the quarterfinals was 16 years ago.
Yet not all seemed merry for the 34-year-old from the very start of what she calls her home tournament.
She overcame a stiff challenge from Christina McHale in her opening round. After the match, less than four minutes into her press conference, a listless Williams abruptly said, “I really just don't want to be here. So if we can wrap this up, that would be great.”
In the later parts of Monday’s match, it looked like she didn’t want to be on court, either.
Still, the 21-time Grand Slam champion started off strong, going up 3-0 before Kuznetsova’s serve got her on the board. Williams was the obvious favorite, but Kuznetsova is a two-time Grand Slam champion and a former world No. 3. She also won this very tournament back in 2006.
It’s still somewhat easy to write the Russian off—it’s been years since she’s been inside the Top 20. But the 30-year-old is now at No. 19, and she won her 16th WTA title in Sydney this year, where she notched a big win over Simona Halep.
Instead of being rattled by Williams’ forceful play at the start of the match, Kuznetsova dug in for the long haul and stuck around long enough to not lose serve the entire set.
“I knew I had to go aggressive [on the serve],” Kuznetsova said. “If I would give some easy second serves I would get my a-- kicked out there.”