ATP Miami: Andrey Kuznetsov Knocks Out Fourth Seed Stan Wawrinka
Kuznetsov returns a shot to Stan Wawrinka/ Photo: AP/Alan Diaz

Playing on the Grandstand, 25-year-old Andrey Kuznetsov beat Stan Wawrinka to advance to the third round of the Miami Open. Coming into 2016, the two players had never faced each other on the professional tour. Now, they have played twice in two weeks.  Wawrinka took that first matchup in Indian Wells last week, but on the other side of the country, it was the world number 51 coming out with the win today.

Coming into the match, the Swiss was considered the heavy favorite as one of the top seeds. It was the second relatively early loss in a row for him. Wawrinka was beaten by David Goffin in the fourth round of Indian Wells. 

Kuznetsov Breaks Early, Is Perfect on Serve

Both players held to start the match, but Wawrinka was in trouble right from the start. The Swiss faced a break in the first game, but was able to save it. Kuznetsov, in contrast, raced through his first service game, losing only one point. He then broke his opponent's serve in the third game to take an important early lead against a top player. The fourth seed had a chance to even the match in the next game when he went up double break point. The Swiss was unable to convert and the Russian won the game with an ace to consolidate the break. 

In his next service game, the 25-year-old Russian faced two more break points, but again his older opponent failed to convert. After four deuces, Kuznetsov held to go up four games to two. He had more break chances in the 7th game and the 9th game, including four set points. In the end, Wawrinka forced him to serve out the set and he did. 

The world number four finished the set having saved six of the seven break points he faced, but won zero of four against his opponent. Kuznetsov won more points on first and second serve, 81 percent to 65 percent and 47 percent to 44 percent respectively. The unseeded player also had more aces, with six to the Swiss' three. 

Kuznetsov Turns Up The Heat, Closes Out The Match

Stan Wawrinka returns the ball in the second round of the Miami Open (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Stan Wawrinka returns the ball in the second round of the Miami Open (AP/Alan Diaz)

After going up a set on one of tennis' top players, the 51st-ranked player in the world did not succumb to nerves. The second set began with three holds of serve. In the fourth game, Kuznetsov went down 0-40. He fought through three break points to get to deuce, then faced another break point, which he also saved. He responded strongly to perhaps his worst game of the match, breaking his opponent's serve to go up 3-2. He quickly consolidated the break and the holds continued until the 9th game. After having held serve to-love, he went up 0-40 on Wawrinka's serve and took the match on his first chance at match point. 

Looking Ahead

Kuznetsov's win today sets up a third round match against either Adrian Mannarino or Sam Querrey. He has never played either player. The Russian has already achieved his best ever result in Miami. Before this year, he had never won a match at the tournament.