Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska wept tears of joy on Sunday after claiming the biggest title of her career with a tense WTA Finals victory over Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova in Singapore.
Radwanska, who lost twice in the round-robin stage, came from a break down in the deciding set to beat an injury-impeded but gritty Kvitova 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and five minutes. The 26-year-old Pole, who was a late qualifier for the eight-player season finale, was highly emotional after winning the prestigious and highly lucrative title at her seventh attempt. “A few weeks ago, I didn’t even know that I had any chance to be here, and there you go. In the final day winning. An incredible day for me,” she said. “That was the biggest day of my life.”
Radwanska looked stunned and covered her face with her left hand after an error from two-time Wimbledon winner Kvitova handed her the Billy Jean King Trophy and the $2.05 million winner’s cheque.
It was the first time that anyone had won the eight-player season finale after losing two matches in the round-robin stage. “It just means everything -- it was my first final (at the tournament) and it couldn’t have been any better,” Radwanska said.
The Pole dominated the first set but Kvitova hit back to win the second and take it to a decider at an increasingly tense Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Radwanska went down a break early in the third but she snatched back control and saw off a gritty fightback by Kvitova, who seemed hampered by an injury to her heavily strapped right leg. Asked after the match if she was in pain, Kvitova said “a little bit but it was okay”.
Grabbed her chance
Radwanska’s route to the title was full of twists and turns. She only qualified for the WTA Finals a week before it started when she won the Tianjin Open in China. And her tournament started poorly when she lost her first two matches to Maria Sharapova and Flavia Pennetta, before her campaign picked up when she beat top seed Simona Halep.
Even so, Radwanska needed Sharapova’s straight-sets win over Pennetta to reach the semis but she grabbed her chance with both hands, upsetting fast-rising world number three Garbine Muguruza of Spain.
In Sunday’s final, Radwanska, one of the best defenders on the women’s tour, broke Kvitova in the first game and repeated it to go up 4-1, before drilling an ace to make it 5-1. She took the opener 6-2 and broke again early in the second set, before Kvitova broke back and held to love with a forehand crosscourt winner to lead for the first time at 4-3.
Both players then held serve but with Radwanska serving to stay in the set at 4-5 down, Kvitova pounced on a weak second serve to take it 6-4 and push the final into a deciding set.
Kvitova seized the early advantage in the third set but Radwanska hit back with a double break, before Kvitova fired off three winners to wrench it back onto serve. However, Radwanska got another break after a double fault and error by Kvitova and held to 5-3, before four successive errors by the Czech quickly brought the match to an end.
With her 17th title, Radwanska moves to $21.3 million in career earnings and will finish the year as the world number five.
Earlier, Swiss veteran Martina Hingis and India’s Sania Mirza crowned a stunning year for their partnership by winning their ninth doubles title. The top seeds, who have lifted two Grand Slam trophies since joining forces in March, beat Spain’s eighth seeds Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro 6-0, 6-3 in 66 minutes.