In front of a partisan Russian crowd, hungry to see their No.1 reclaim the title and qualify for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, Kuznetsova overcame a nervous start to run out a 6-2, 6-1 winner.
Early on, the occasion looked in danger of getting the better of Kuznetsova, Gavrilova holding confidently then taking advantage of some loose groundstrokes to claim an immediate break. However, from this moment on, it was one-way traffic, the top seed bossing the baseline exchanges to rattle through the rest of the set.
It has been a long week for Gavrilova, who also reached the doubles final alongside Daria Kasatkina, and her tired legs began to show in the second set, Kuznetsova firing winners from all over the court as she swaggered towards her 17th career title.
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"Before the match, when I was warming up, my body hurt. I felt tired, didn't really know how I was going to play. I concentrated and thought that I had to be over it," Kuznetsova told the Russian press. "Before the match I had the energy and the desire to play. I wanted to show good tennis and I am happy I succeeded."
Kuznetsova was taken to three sets by both Timea Babos in the quarterfinals and Elina Svitolina in the semifinals, but made light of her aching limbs to produce the tennis that has fueled this season's resurgence.
"I fought in every match. I tried to win. I had very tough matches because I didn't feel comfortable with the tennis I played," she added. "But I understood I could win even with bad tennis. I leveled up my tennis. Last year I was lower in my level but I managed to prepare one week before."
This hectic schedule will continue for one more week, as the World No.9 returns to the WTA Finals. Her last appearance at the season-ending showpiece came in 2009, and in her five previous visits she has never been beyond the round-robin stage.
She will begin her challenge on Monday evening against defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska. "I was trying not to think about Singapore all week. I was playing match by match and I'm so happy to win and reach Singapore. It is a great feeling," she added.
Twenty-four hours earlier, two other players headed for Singapore after lifting the doubles title, Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka prevailing in a fraught finish to see off Gavrilova and Kasatkina, 4-6, 6-0, 10-7.