SINGAPORE — A physically spent Svetlana Kuznetsova claimed a draining 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 win over defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska in nearly three hours at the WTA Finals on Monday.
Kuznetsova, who saved a match point on Radwanska’s serve near the end, eventually prevailed on a third match point to break Radwanska’s serve.
“At some point I was just ready to let it go, just lay on the court and let them take me out of here,” Kuznetsova told the cheering crowd. “I was just trying to stay in there and hang in there.”
Kuznetsova was the last player to earn a berth into the eight-player, year-end championships when she defended her Moscow title on Saturday.
The Russian arrived in Singapore on Sunday afternoon after a grueling four weeks of chasing a spot in the WTA Finals for the first time since 2009.
Kuznetsova played three tournaments in China ahead of taking a wildcard into the Moscow tournament.
In a bizarre move while trailing 1-2 and down a break in the third set, Kuznetsova took a pair of scissors to the back of her head and cut off a portion of her braid during the changeover.
Kuznetsova immediately broke Radwanska’s serve after the impromptu haircut, but after dropping her serve again in the fifth game she cried into her towel on the changeover.
Still, trailing 2-4 Kuznetsova refused to surrender and climbed back into the set.
The hair Kuznetsova sheared off remained on her chair for the remainder of the match.
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Two-time former champion Victoria Azarenka has been awarded a wild card for the Australian Open.
Azarenka, who won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, has been involved in a custody dispute involving her son Leo, who was born last Dec. 19.
She hasn’t competed anywhere since Wimbledon, where she lost to Simona Halep in the fourth round on July 10. The dispute with her former partner started shortly after Wimbledon ended.
Azarenka has played only six matches this year and is ranked 208th.
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said on Wednesday that every assistance would be provided to the former No. 1, adding “Vika’s current situation is obviously very difficult for her and we have reached out to offer any support we can.”
The Australian Open starts on Jan. 15.
LONDON — Rafael Nadal and Garbine Muguruza have won the International Tennis Federation’s player of the year awards.
At 31, Nadal becomes the oldest ITF men’s world champion after a season in which he won a 10th French Open and a third U.S. Open.
The Spaniard also became the oldest player to finish the year at No. 1 since the ATP rankings began in 1973.
Muguruza dropped only one set en route to her first Wimbledon title and finished the year at No. 2 behind Simona Halep.
“Becoming ITF world champion in such a competitive year is amazing for me,” said Muguruza, who is also Spanish. “(Nadal) is a great role model for all of us, so it is a great moment for tennis in Spain.”