Svetlana Kuznetsova became the first woman to book her place in the semi-finals of the 2016 WTA Finals in Singapore after a magnificent 3-6 6-2 7-6 victory over Karolina Pliskova on Wednesday.
The 31-year-old Kuznetsova has played plenty of tennis in recent weeks, including her run to last week’s Moscow title- which confirmed her place in the WTA Finals- but she has somehow found the energy to string together two grueling victories in Singapore.
Pliskova’s power from that back of the court was prevalent in a dominant first set on Wednesday, but Kuznetsova’s greater court craft took over in the second as her opponent’s level dipped.
The Russian sped through 6-2 to force a decider.
While Kuznetsova kept her nose in front, Pliskova kept coming back.
The tall Czech had recovered from 2-5 down in the final set of her victory over Garbine Muguruza 48 hours earlier, and she threatened a similar escape when turned a 3-5 deficit into a 6-5 advantage.
The Kuznetsova in Singapore, though, is made of stern stuff. The Russian broke back to force a tie break, where she established a 6-3 lead.
This topsy-turvy encounter took another turn when Pliskova superbly saved three match points, but there was no denying Kuznetsova, who sealed a stunning victory with a majestic backhand down the line.
That win, coupled with Agnieszka Radwanska’s 7-6 6-3 triumph over Garbine Muguruza later in the day, sealed Kuznetsova’s passage into the last four for the first time in six attempts.
The other semi-final slot in the White Group will be decided when Radwanska and Pliskova meet on Friday in a winner-takes-all contest.