New Delhi: Polish player Agnieszka Radwanska claimed her biggest ever tennis title after beating Petra Kvitova 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in the finals of WTA Finals in Singapore on Sunday.
In the two hour six minute long season finale, Radwanska survived a spirited fight from her Czech opponent in three sets, to lift the Billie Jean King trophy at Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Radwanska started with a dream first game, breaking Kvitova, then doubled it with another break of service in the fifth game. She won the set 6-2 in 33 minutes. But two-time Grand Slam champion, who has a 3-0 record in the big finals, fought back to win the second set 6-4, despite a 13 points first game on serve, Kvitova broke the Pole in the sixth and tenth games. The set lasted 45 minutes.
Radwanska almost broke Kvitova, again, in the first game of the deciding set, but the Czech saved a break-point to hold. But instead, the world number five on the counter, broke her opponent to take a 2-0 lead. A wrong call from lines-woman on service return robed Radwanska her own break on the first chance in the very next game, but she wasted no chance by sending another passing winner on return to back on serve, 1-2.
In the fifth game, Radwanska broke Kvitova after the Czech player sent a baseline single handed forehand. A limping Kvitova, then, produced a mixture of powerful double-handed ground-strokes, delicate drop-shots and cross-court winners to return the favour, and on serve 3-3.
A double-fault on duece in the next game, and Radwanska broke Kvitova again. It was the fifth break of service in the set, tenth in the game. Radwanska broke Kvitova for the one last time, in the ninth game, to claim the biggest title of her career.
With the win, Radwanska climbs one place in the season-ending WTA ranking to number 5, besides pocketing a huge pay check of over $20 million. And also improved her head-to-head record against Kvitova to 3-6.
Yesterday, Radwanska ended her four match losing streak to Spanish sensation Garbine Muguruza to enter first ever final of WTA Finals. She won the match 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-5 in 2 hours 41 minutes, while Kvitova beat three-time finalist Maria Sharapova in straight sets, 6-3, 7-6(3) in one hour and 51 minutes.
The 26-year-old Pole's win over Muguruza also marked her 50th win of the year, a feat only achieved by Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber in 2015.
Both Radwanska and Kvitova have been already assured of at least $894,000 each in prize money for making the finals, with one round robin win each. They became the 12th and 13th players in WTA history to earn more than $20-million in career prize money, respectively.
Radwanska - despite a losing record in the Red Group round-robin phase, including defeats to Maria Sharapova 6-4, 3-6, 4-6 and Flavia Pennetta 6(5)-7, 4-6, before defeating Simona top-seeded Simona Halep 7-6(5), 6-1, claimed her first WTA Finals title. And she is the first player after Amelie Mauresmo (2005) to win the WTA Finals title before winning a Grand Slam tournament.
Eugenie Bouchard, Ana Ivanovic and Caroline Wozniacki were other players who have featured in the 8-player season ending tournament. World number one Serena Williams opted out of the tournament to give herself enough time to regroup after a grueling season.