Published November 25, 2016 12:15
Svetlana Kuznetsova‘s 2016 season was defined by flashes of brilliance bookended by torrid streaks and, by October, the Russian was one of a handful of players on the bubble to qualify for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
She beat out the likes of Johanna Konta, Carla Suárez Navarro and Petra Kvitova for the eighth singles spot, becoming the last player to arrive in Singapore after a rollercoaster qualification campaign took her around the world and back and had her on court over 1600 minutes.
Once she touched down in the Lion City, Kuznetsova had little time to relax and she had to hit the ground running. It didn’t help that Kuznetsova’s first opponent would be Agnieszka Radwanska, World No.3 and defending Singapore champion.
She came into the matchup with an impressive 12-4 record against Radwanska, but the odds still didn’t seem to be in her favor. She should have been exhausted, she should have been jetlagged – and she probably was.
But Kuznetsova didn’t read the script, and she certainly never does things the easy way.
The 31-year-old veteran fought off the crafty Radwanska, overcame her own shot emotions, saved match point and even gave herself a mid-match haircut on her way to winning 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 in two hours and 48 minutes.
“I came here, I was tired and jet lagged, but I didn’t want to think about it. I can be stronger,” Kuznetsova said after the epic encounter.
With barely any time to make pre-tournament preparations for the conditions on Stadium Court, Kuznetsova quickly fell behind 1-4 in the first set. She didn’t stay down too long, though.
The Russian played point-by-point, game-by-game to make her comeback and stay within touching distance of Radwanska, even as the Pole regrouped and served for the match at 5-4 in the third.
— WTA (@WTA) October 24, 2016
And, of course, there was the mid-match haircut.
Down a break at 1-2 in the third set, Kuznetsova stunned everyone by taking a pair of scissors and hacking off a significant chunk of her hair.
The Russian said her ponytail was whipping into her eyes when she hit big forehands and she finally had enough. “I thought, Okay, what’s more important now, my hair which I can let grow or the match? I thought, Okay, I got to go for it right now, and that’s it.”
Kuznetsova broke serve in the very next game, went on to save match point and stun the defending champion on the second day of group stage action.
Though Kuznetsova would eventually be bested in the semifinals by eventual champion Dominika Cibulkova, her epic opening match against Radwanska will be go down as the WTA’s Best Match Of 2016 – it certainly gave us the most memorable moment of the year!