Singapore - Russia's
Svetlana Kuznetsova produced another extraordinary comeback to win her
second straight match at the WTA Finals on Wednesday, sealing a place in
Just two days after she saved a match point to
defeat the defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska, Kuznetsova again
rallied back from the brink to beat US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova
3-6 6-2 7-6 (8-6) in a heart-stopper at Singapore's Indoor Stadium.
still has another round-robin match to play on Friday against Garbine
Muguruza but is already assured of finishing top of the White Group
standings after Muguruza was beaten 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 by Radwanska in
Wednesday's late match.
Muguruza is out of the running for the
semis after losing her first two matches, leaving Pliskova and Radwanska
to battle it out on Friday to see who else goes through with Kuznetsova
from the group.
With sweat pouring from her face and her muscles
aching after she had run herself ragged for more than two hours, the
31-year-old Kuznetsova triumphed through sheer willpower and nerves of
"I play with my heart. I always do," Kuznetsova said. "But
maybe I'm starting to believe a little bit more than before. I just hang
in there more.
"Some things get together and you get confidence. I
see opponents fear me more than before because I win matches, I fight,
and I'll be there. It doesn't matter if I play like crap and I'm sore, I
will just be there."
Pliskova, seven years younger than
Kuznetsova but with ice in her veins as well after saving a match point
to beat Muguruza on Monday, looked poised to end Kuznetsova's inspired
run when she recovered from 4-1 down in the deciding third set to lead
But the towering Czech squandered
her chance to serve out the match, hitting a string of unforced errors
as she tried to end the contest quickly, as the relentless Kuznetsova
broke back and forced a tiebreaker.
The match was still in the
balance when Pliskova saved three successive match points to draw level
at 6-6 in the tiebreaker when the more experienced Kuznetsova regained
her composure and won the next two points to seal victory.
"I'm not surprised at all," Pliskova said. "She's won two Grand Slams, so it's not someone who just came up.
"She is very strong woman and she can really play tennis. She has a tough game."
Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova both absent from the prestigious
end-of-season championship, Kuznetsova has emerged as the unlikely
headline act of the $7 million tournament, restricted to the world's top
She defied the odds just to qualify for the
tournament for the first time since 2009, only sneaking into the elite
field after winning the Kremlin Cup in Moscow on Saturday, then hopped
straight on a plane and made the long flight to Southeast Asia.
when she arrived, she seemed to be heading towards defeat in her first
match with Radwanska when she asked the umpire for a pair of scissors
and began cutting her own hair during a change of ends.
on and won the match as footage of the impromptu haircut went viral on
social media, winning Kuznetsova a legion of new fans, but upsetting her
"I took the headband off and I was like, it
looks weird," Kuznetsova said. "So I made a picture and I sent it to my
hair cutter. He was like, 'I'm going to kill you'."
Results from the WTA Finals tournament in Singapore on Wednesday (x denotes seeding):
Round-robin stage White Group
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS x8) bt Karolina Pliskova (CZE x4) 3-6 6-2 7-6 (8-6)
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL x2) bt Garbine Muguruza (ESP x5) 7-6 (7-1) 6-3