New Delhi: World number six Agnieszka Radwanska ended her four match losing streak to Spanish sensation Garbine Muguruza to enter first ever final of WTA Finals on Saturday in Singapore. The 26-year-old Polish girl will play Petra Kvitova, who defeated Maria Sharapova in another semi-final, in Sunday's final.
In the first semi-final, Radwanska beat the world number three from Spain in three grueling sets, 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-5 in 2 hours 41 minutes. The win also marked her 50th win of the year, a feat only achieved by Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber in 2015.
After losing the hour-long first set in the tie-breakers, Radwanska fought off injury scare to win the next set as Muguruza suddenly started to spray her shot all over. With a heavily strapped right thigh, the Polish player broke her opponent in successive games to take a 4-1 lead, like in the previous set. But she survived a late fight-back to win 6-3, with another break of serve.
In the deciding set, the fifth-seeded player started in the same vein with some crafty shots. But, once again, the Wimbledon finalist Muguruza produced a valliant fight back to level 5-5 after breaking Radwanska in the seventh game. Radwanska broke Muguruza in the 12th game in her second chance to book her first ever WTA Finals final.
The win also assured Radwanska at least $894,000 in prize money as a finalist with one round robin win - which would push her over the $20-million career prize money mark.
Muguruza, who had beaten Radwanska in all four of their 2015 meetings at Sydney, Dubai, Wimbledon and Beijing, was bidding to become only the fourth player after Serena Williams in 2001, Maria Sharapova in 2004 and Petra Kvitova in 2011, to win the title on debut.
But despite an impressive tournament, in which she has beaten all her three opponents in the White Group, failed to keep her momentum, and committed as many as 54 unforced errors against Radwanska's 24. The Spaniard produced 49 winners, 20 more than her opponent, but it was not enough to give her cover on a day of below-par tennis.
On the other hand, Radwanska - despite a losing record in the Red Group round-robin phase, she lifted her over-all game against the powerful and highly-gifted opponent. She lost 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.
Radwanska is one win away from the biggest WTA title of her career, having never won one of the five biggest tournaments on the WTA calendar (the four Grand Slams and the WTA Finals). With the win, she improved her win-loss record against Muguruza to 3-4.
Amelie Mauresmo, in 2005, was the last player to win the WTA Finals title before winning a Grand Slam tournament.
In the second semi-final between two former champions, world number five Petra Kvitova beat three-time finalist Maria Sharapova in straight sets, 6-3, 7-6(3) in one hour and 51 minutes.
And like her final opponent, Kvitova is also assured of at least $894,000 in prize money - which would push her over the $20-million career prize money mark.
Fourth seeded Kvitova broke Sharapova three times in the first for an easy 6-3 win in 42 minutes. But the former world number one from Russia responded in emphatic fashion to race to 4-0 in the second set with back-to-back service breaks. After that, the 25-year-old Czech hold her service games to prolong the set. From a 2-5 down in the second set, she leveled at 5-5 with a break of service in the ninth game, with Sharapova crashing her rally return into the net. Then, Kvitova wrested back the momentum with a service hold, thus reeling off five straight games.
In the very next, five-time Grand Slam winner Sharapova showed her vintage touch, holding the serve, for a tie-break. But, after one hour and nine minutes, Kvitova won the tie-breaker in her second match point, 7-6 (3).
Despite a not so impressive head-to-head record against the Russian, 3-6 before the match, two-time Grand Slam champion got the better of third-seeded Sharapova for the second time in Singapore.
Sharapova had won all her Red Group matches, beating Radwanska, Halep 6-4, 6-4 and Pennetta 7-5, 6-1, but Kvitova managed only a win in her White Group, over Lucie Safarova and lost against Muguruza 4-6, 6-4, 5-7 and Angelique Kerber 2-6, 6(3)-7.
Sharapova, who returned to form after a long injury lay-off, in Singapore was bidding to win after a record gap of 11 years. In their last meeting, in the same venue Singapore Indoor Stadium, Kvitova beat Sharapova 6-3, 6-2.
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.