French Open champion Garbine Muguruza ended Svetlana Kuznetsova’s winning streak at the WTA Finals on Friday with a consolation 3-6 6-0 6-1 victory.
Kuznetsova finally ran out of steam after having already booked her place in the semi-finals, winning just one of the last 12 games as the Spaniard, who was already eliminated from contention after losing her first two matches, finished the tournament with a morale-boosting victory.
After taking the opening set in style, Kuznetsova suddenly faded, losing 10 games in a row, including a 13-minute game in the third set that saw seven break points.
Despite playing only for pride, the 23-year-old Muguruza produced her best performance of the tournament, thumping down three aces and finishing off the contest in one hour and 34 minutes.
“It was very difficult for me this tournament because I started losing two matches but today I wanted really to go for the victory to feel good for myself and, I did it,” a smiling Muguruza said at a courtside interview after the match.
Kuznetsova has battled jetlag and exhaustion since flying straight into Singapore after lifting the Kremlin Cup last weekend to leapfrog Britain’s Johanna Konta for the final spot in the tournament.
With Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova both absent from the prestigious end-of-season championship, Kuznetsova has emerged as the unlikely headline act of the $7 million event, restricted to the world’s top eight players.
“To go to the limit, you need to push yourself hard, but I want to do that tomorrow,” Kuznetsova said.
She will play Dominika Cibulkova in Saturday’s semis while the defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska and US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova will face off on Friday night to decide who meets world number one Angelique Kerber.