Tennis: Kuznetsova upsets defending WTA Finals champion Radwanska

Svetlana Kuznetsova celebrating during her WTA Finals match against Agnieszka Radwanska at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Oct 24, 2016.
Svetlana Kuznetsova celebrating during her WTA Finals match against Agnieszka Radwanska at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Oct 24, 2016. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Svetlana Kuznetsova is the oldest singles player and latest one among the elite eight-player field to arrive at the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Finals Singapore.

But the 31-year-old Russian put up a tireless performance, drawing on all her reserves - even trimming off a part of her ponytail at one point - saving a match point to beat defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 in a 2hr 48min marathon on Monday (Oct 24) in their White Group match.

The win stretches Kuznetsova's WTA-leading three-set match victories to 21 this season.

 

Kuznetsova arrived in Singapore just a day before the match - the latest of the eight singles players - having booked her berth only after winning the Kremlin Cup in Moscow on Saturday (Oct 22). It is her first WTA Finals appearance since 2009.

But the world No. 9, a two-time Grand Slam winner, showed little signs of fatigue and jet lag, starting brightly as she rallied from 1-4 down to take the first set 7-5.

But Radwanska, ranked third, reeled off six consecutive games from 2-1 in the second set to give herself a 2-0 lead in the decider.

Frustration built up for the Russian. After surrendering her first break of the final set, she sent a ball skywards, hitting the lights and earning herself a warning from the chair umpire.

Much to the amusement of the crowd, she snipped off a part of her hair at the changeover at 1-2.

But that move did not seem to take the heat off the fiesty world No. 9 Russian.She received a time violation warning when serving at 2-2, and slammed her racquet at 2-3.

Though trailing 2-4, Kuznetsova refused to throw in the towel and pulled level to 4-4.

She saved a match point at 4-5, courtesy of a backhand into the net by Radwanska.

And she closed out an exhausting victoryon her third match point on Radwanska's serve when the Pole sent a forehand shot into the net.

Kuznetsova said after the match: "I was trying to stay and hang in there and play every ppoint. I tried to keep things simple because it was quite difficult. Things were not working very well for me because it's my first time here in Singapore."

Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova and Spain's Garbine Muguruza will face off in the second White Group match of the day.