WTA Finals Day 2 round-up: Svetlana Kuznetsova, Karolina Pliskova save match points to grab wins
The Singapore Indoor Stadium was lit up by some sizzling tennis on Day 2 of the WTA Finals as both Svetlana Kuznetsova and Karolina Pliskova put up tremendous shows of resilience to save match points and grab wins in the White Group.
While two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova toppled the defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska 7-5, 1-6, 7-5, debutante Pliskova prevailed over the French Open winner Garbine Muguruza, 6-2, 6(4)-7, 7-5.
31-year-old Kuznetsova’s qualification was in doubt even a few days back. Only winning the Kremlin Cup in Moscow could have awarded her the final berth and the Russian did exactly that to secure her spot. For those who hoped that her hectic week at the Russian capital and the subsequent 10 hour flight to Singapore would rob her of all her energy, they were in for a shock.
Kuznetsova eked out her 13th win in 17 career showdowns with Radwanska in a marathon 2 hour 48 minute match, exhibiting the gutsy play that is such a trademark of her style.
It was, however, the fresher Radwanska who made a far more confident start and raced out to a 4-1 lead. The Russian clearly needed a bit of time to settle into the match for she soon made her presence felt. Breaking back twice, she clinched the opener, 7-5.
The Pole was sure not to repeat the same mistakes and so the second set was simply a one-way traffic with the 2015 winner dominating it completely. Radwanska’s guile and finesse came alive and she stormed to take the set, 6-1.
With the momentum clearly on her side, the defending champion asserted herself early in the decider. She grabbed a break to lead 2-1 but Kuznetsova was not done. All the Russian needed was a trim of her hair that would produce magic and haul her back into the set.
The eighth seed’s hairdressing skills immediately became a Twitter sensation and within a couple of minutes of doing it, she broke back and levelled the set.
The drama continued with both returning ferociously and exchanging breaks through the remainder of the set. Radwanska was the first to have a chance to close out the match having been presented with a match point at 5-4. But she misfired a backhand to let it go and never got another opportunity again as Kuznetsova raised her level for a memorable victory.
Massive comeback from Pliskova
Getting inspired from Kuznetsova’s win, Pliskova too produced a massive effort to come back from the brink against Muguruza in the day’s second match. The US Open runner-up Pliskova had won her last three encounters with Muguruza and she started the match in the exact same fashion. The fourth seed rushed to take the first set 6-2, serving five of the 14 aces that she thundered in this match.
In a topsy-turvy second set that had four breaks of serve, the fifth seeded Spaniard got a chance to serve for the set after breaking Pliskova for a 5-3 advantage. The undeterred Czech immediately broke back and even built a 3-0 lead in the ensuing tie-break until Muguruza stalled her momentum to force a decider.
It was all Muguruza from then on as the Spaniard looked determined to make it to the finish line and inched ahead 5-2. But, to her utter dismay, she miscued a volley and gave a second life to Pliskova, who made full use of it to surge to an improbable victory in 2 hours 29 minutes.