Vera Zvonareva beat Victoria Azarenka 7-6 6-4 on Wednesday to claim her second win of the WTA Championships and stay in the hunt for the year-end world number one ranking.
In contrast to her straightforward victory over ailing Serb Jelena Jankovic, the Russian was pushed hard by Azarenka, who arrived in the Qatari capital fresh from capturing her second title of the year in Moscow.
After an uninspired opening, punctuated by a bizarre breakdancing interlude on the purple-coloured court following the second changeover, Zvonareva`s superior groundstrokes began to tell as Azarenka became increasing erratic and emotional.
The 21-year-old from Belarus squandered a glorious chance to break in the eighth game, letting out a deafening shriek of frustration.
The first set went to a tiebreak, Zvonareva breaking immediately to jump out to an early lead and despite struggling on her own serve she wrapped it up 7-4.
In the second set, Zvonareva had the pony-tailed Azarenka on the back foot, arrowing deep backhands to the corners and finding her target with sickening consistency.
Despite playing a day earlier, the Russian was the one dictating the pace, pushing Azarenka around the court and forcing her into a string of unforced errors.
At 5-4 down, Azarenka saved two match points but she netted a weak forehand on the third to hand victory to the Russian.