Stepping onto court having tasted defeat just once in her previous eight encounters with Radwanska, Kuznetsova had the right to feel confident. In the end, though, she was forced to draw on every ounce of self-belief to close out a thrilling 1-6, 7-6(9), 6-4 victory.
"I was getting better as the match was going on. Aga played well in the first set, but I wasn't moving so well," Kuznetsova said. "In the second set I wasn't playing my best game. But I was trying to stay in there, trying to fight, trying to be smart and turn things around.
"Then I served good in the third set and took control of the game. I don't know how many match points I saved, I was just trying to play normal points as it was very even. I had some set points, so I was just trying to stay calm."
For the first half an hour, Kuznetsova looked distinctly second best, Radwanska pulling out the party pieces to pocket the first set. The Pole was unable to sustain this level in the second set and as her level dipped, Kuznetsova got a belated foothold in the match.
However, it still appeared that her efforts would be in vain, Radwanska canceling out an early deficit to serve for the match at 6-5. The Russian chose this moment to up her level, fine winners off either wing earning the opportunity to get back on level terms, which she took when the No.3 seed's drop shot drifted wide.
? WTA (@WTA) September 29, 2016
The ensuing tie-break contained more drama than many matches, Kuznetsova surging 6-3 ahead, then fending off a match point before rifling a backhand down the line to close out the set at the sixth time of asking.
When she quickly slipped 2-0 behind in the third set, it looked like the effort of dragging herself back into the contest had taken its toll. Yet Kuznetsova had one last push in her, reeling off five of the next six games, closing out the match with 51st winner.