Kuznetsova edges Pliskova to reach semis in Singapore
By John O'Brien
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Svetlana Kuznetsova claimed her second titanic victory in a row when the Russian outlasted Karolina Pliskova 3-6 6-2 7-6(6) in a thrilling White Group encounter at the WTA Finals to reach the semi-finals on Wednesday.
In the second pool match, Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska got her title defense back on track with an accomplished 7-6(1) 6-3 victory over French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, a result that eliminated the Spaniard.
After battling toe-to-toe for two hours and 17 minutes, Kuznetsova collapsed in a heap on the court after sealing victory on her fourth match point with a backhand winner down the line to finally break the Czech's resistance.
"With all the support of the crowd and my team, I couldn't afford to let myself and everybody down so I had to fight," twice grand slam winner Kuznetsova said.
"I haven't been at my best in recent years but something changed this year... I enjoy my game, I enjoy the crowd and I feel blessed to be playing the best players in the world."
Kuznetsova was the final qualifier for the elite eight-woman event when she successfully defended her Kremlin Cup title on Saturday and the world number nine has shown incredible staying power to first outlast Radwanska on Monday and now Pliskova.
The victory had put Kuznetsova on the verge of sealing a semi-final spot at the year-end championships for the first time in six attempts and her berth was assured when Radwanska beat Muguruza in the late match.
Pliskova started confidently, pushing her opponent around the court with her booming forehand and holding comfortably despite struggling to find her range with the first serve, the Czech edging ahead first with a break in the fourth game. Continued...