MIAMI, FL, USA - No.7 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova overcame a slow start and an inspired Taylor Townsend to beat the American qualifier, 6-4, 6-2, joining No.10 seed Johanna Konta, who beat Pauline Parmentier, 6-4, 6-0 in the fourth round of the Miami Open.
Townsend has long been a talented prospect, having won the 2013 Australian Open junior title and finishing runner-up to Belinda Bencic at that year's Wimbledon Championships. Qualifying for the main draw and upsetting Roberta Vinci in her previous match, the American looked on course for another upset as she took the first break from Kuznetsova in the opening set.
"I'd never played her before, but still, to face her it's a bit different," she told WTA Insider after the match. "It took me time to adjust to her game. I got broken right away, and I was serving against the sun, so it was a little bit difficult."
But Kuznetsova is in good form herself, reaching the final at last week's BNP Paribas Open; relaxed and focused, the Russian took four straight games to reclaim the break and the opening set from Townsend, who put up quite a fight in the final game before dropping serve.
"She plays good tennis, different than other girls. I took time to adjust, changed my strategy, and in the end it worked pretty well. But she's very talented."
The 2006 champion and 2016 finalist raced ahead to start the second and never looked back, despite some impressive variety from the 20-year-old.
"It's a great match-up, and it's great to play Venus again, one more time. We're both having great results, so I'm looking forward to that match."
Earlier in the day, Konta worked through a tense opening set to roll through against Parmentier.
"I'm happy to have come through that," Konta said after the match. "Although the scoreline doesn't show it in the second set, I still had to work hard within every single point. I really tried hard not to take my foot off the gas and stay focused on what I wanted to achieve."
The Frenchwoman has displayed impresisve tennis of late, and nearly beat World No.1 Angelique Kerber in Indian Wells.
"She's been very strong with her forehand, and her serve is actually quite a big weapon, as well. I was quite happy with how I could neutralize it and look towards having good variety on my returns. I also made it difficult for her to find her spots on the forehand; I didn't give her too many opportunities to set up, because when she does, she can be very tough to play."
With 19 winners to just five unforced errors to advance, it was night and day for the British No.1 on Sunday after her tough opening round win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich, which went deep into a third set.
"The bonus of getting through any match is having the opportunity to play again. I have another opportunity to get better and to perform well.
"Those stats obviously look better on paper, and that's good to hear. There's other moving factors in a match, but I was still very happy I was able to stick with my plan and not divert from that in any way.
"Each match puts forward different challenges, so it's hard to compare and decide which has been my best performance. My first round was very good, for example, because I could get through a difficult situation. Today was a cleaner match, so in that sense, it was also a good performance."
Standing between Konta and a second straight quarterfinal in Miami will be the winner of No.8 seed Madison Keys and Lara Arruabarrena.
"I played Madison in Beijing last year. I think I played Lara once before, but not for many years. We all know Madison has a big game, so if I end up playing her, I'll be expecting to play someone with a lot of weight of shot. I haven't watched Lara play too much, but she's been around a while and won a title at the end of last year. She's a tough player, so either way it'll be a tough match."
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This article was first seen on www.wtatennis.com.