By John O’Brien
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Svetlana Kuznetsova suffered pain and fatigue at the start of her second match of the WTA Finals on Wednesday but rather than continuing to feel sorry for herself the Russian knuckled down and gave it everything.
The world number nine trailed Karolina Pliskova by a set and a break in the White Group clash but for the second match running, she dug deep into her reserves to eke out a 3-6 6-2 7-6(6) victory against her Czech opponent.
The victory ensured Kuznetsova, the last woman to both qualify and arrive in Singapore, was the first to book a place in the last four of the elite eight-woman event, just reward for the 31-year-old’s stamina and never-say-die attitude.
“In the first set I was not there. I struggled with my body, to move and to play better. I sensed I had possibilities but that was all,” said Kuznetsova, who beat defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska in a tough three-setter on Monday.
“But I was kind of feeling sorry for myself. That’s what you cannot accept being a tennis player. It doesn’t matter what situation you been through, you cannot be sorry for yourself. I’m sore. It’s not working,” she added.
“I told myself to shut it down, move on and try to do what (my coach) came to me and said. I focused on the points and I made the break. Then I saw doubts in her. Then I felt I was doing much better. Then we were even.”
Kuznetsova arrived with a poor record at the year-ending championships, failing to get past the round robin stage in five previous attempts in a format she has struggled to master.
“First of all, you’re not used to losing a match then playing next day. It’s a most weird thing. But after doing well in the Fed Cup I thought, I can do it,” she added.
“Then when you get older you get more mature and you can find not only negative things, but also positive.
“It’s not like a regular tournament where you win and another player wins and then you play and the winner goes on. It’s like everybody, the best players, no matter if you win or lose, you can still have a chance.
“But you play another top player. It’s not like you or they are the favorite, it’s different. That’s why I struggled with it before.
“This year I just decided to play each match and that’s it. I already appreciate being here because I qualified at the last moment.”
(Editing by Ken Ferris)