Age or tiredness, nothing can derail the determined Svetlana Kuznetsova at the ongoing WTA Finals in Singapore! The 31-year-old, the oldest singles player at this season-ending event, once more brought forth her exceptional fighting skills to ward off a late comeback from the fourth seeded Karolina Pliskova in an enthralling epic, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(6) on Wednesday. With her second win in a row, the eighth seed has now topped the White Group and has assured herself of a semi-final spot.
In the day’s other match, the defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska shook off the defeat in her opener to register a 7-6(1), 6-3 win over the reigning French Open champion Garbine Muguruza.
First semi-final in sixth attempt for Kuznetsova
The eighth seeded Kuznetsova’s run has been awe-inspiring to say the least. She was the last player to qualify and her chances were possible only if she won the Kremlin Cup in Moscow after the five-time champion Serena Williams withdrew, citing a shoulder injury.
The Russian not only won the title at home but continued with that confidence even at Singapore after a tiring 10 hour flight to reach the Lion City. Displaying the resilience that she is known for, she eked out a tough three-set victory over Radwanska after saving a match point in her opener.
Her second match on Day 4 witnessed the same tenacity and stamina from the two-time Grand Slam champion, who needed 2 hours 17 minutes for the victory. Her never-say-die attitude was rewarded with a berth in the last-four stage for the very first time in six attempts.
The US Open runner-up Pliskova, who herself saved a match point for a win in her first match, was the one who made a brighter start. Breaking Kuznetsova twice, she grabbed the first set 6-3.
When she secured a break of serve at the beginning of the second set, the match seemed to be over for the Russian. But the smart tactician spruced up her defensive game and made the lanky Czech move around the court and play long rallies. The new strategy worked as Pliskova’s error count piled up. Kuznetsova earned three breaks of serve in that set to level the match with one set apiece.
The decider was where the drama reached its peak. This time it was the Russian who quickly surged to a 4-1 lead which she extended to 5-3 only to see it rapidly vanishing in the face of an inspired fightback from the Czech. Pliskova even had a chance to serve out the match at 6-5 but another twist was reserved.
The fourth seed was broken and a tie-break ensued. In an up-and-down affair, Kuznetsova had three match points all of which were erased by the Czech. Finally on her fourth match point, she grabbed the win with a stinging backhand down-the-line right into the corner which dashed all hopes of the Czech.
Radwanska keeps her chances alive
After a heartbreaking defeat from match point up in her first group match against Kuznetsova, all defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska needed was a confidence-boosting performance in her second assignment against the fifth seed Garbine Muguruza. And the Pole delivered exactly that to put her campaign back on track and still be in the hunt for a semi-final place.
Even though the Spaniard led their head-to-head meetings 4-3, the second seed could draw a lot of inspiration from their last showdown which happened right here at this venue one year ago and the result went in favour of the Pole.
Muguruza, however, squandered a great opportunity to serve out the first set at 5-4 and that only galvanized the Radwanska comeback. The Pole played a spectacular tie-break, conceding just one point and she took it on a jaw-dropping short backhand.
The French Open champion was involved in a tight battle with the Pole till 3-3 in the second break after which she gave away a crucial break of serve. Radwanska needed no more help and she closed out the win soon after, breaking Muguruza yet again in the ninth game.
The winner of Radwanska’s next group match against Karolina Pliskova will clinch the second semi-final berth from the White Group.