At last, after a long wait, the complete list of eight players who will be competing at the prestigious $7,000,000 WTA Finals is known. Two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova successfully defended her title at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow on Saturday, putting up a stupendous performance to outclass Daria Gavrilova, 6-2, 6-1 in the final in just 1 hour 12 minutes. With this, the former World No. 2 Russian became the eighth and last player to qualify for the glittering season-ending tournament, beginning in Singapore on Sunday.
She thus joins Angelique Kerber, Agnieszka Radwanska, Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova, Garbine Muguruza, Madison Keys and Dominika Cibulkova at the WTA grand finale.
How Kuznetsova made the last-minute qualification
The year-ender this year originally had eight players already sealing all the berths. But five-time champion Serena Williams’ participation was always in doubt with her opting out of two tournaments post the US Open to recover from a shoulder injury.
Only this week, the American confirmed that she was indeed pulling out of the WTA Finals which opened up a slot for another player. A thrilling race ensued in which Kuznetsova, Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro and Great Britain’s Johanna Konta were all vying for that final spot.
The Spaniard was the first to exit after she retired in the second round of the Kremlin Cup due to a right wrist injury while trailing to the eventual runner-up Gavrilova, 4-6, 0-3. That left only Kuznetsova and Konta in the race and all that the ninth-ranked Russian needed was an all-or-nothing win to deny the Briton an opportunity to play in the WTA Finals for the first time.
That is exactly what Kuznetsova did this week at her home event for which she took a last-minute wildcard to brighten up her chances to qualify. Her Moscow win, which is the 17th title of her career, confirms that she will be playing at the WTA Finals for the first time since 2009.
“I was trying not to think about Singapore all week. I was playing match by match and I’m so happy to win and reach WTA Finals,” the 31-year-old said after her win.
Radwanska first up for Kuznetsova
The job is not that easy for her now, though. Kuznetsova now has to fly all the way from Moscow to Singapore and she has the defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska to face in her very first match on Monday.
Although the Russian has an 11-4 head-to-head record against the Pole and won their most recent encounter in Beijing just a couple of weeks back, it all depends on how much energy the Russian will have left after this arduous process of qualifying.