SINGAPORE - Defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska got the defense of her BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global title back on track with a straight-sets win over Garbiñe Muguruza on Wednesday.
In a rematch of last year's semifinal, Radwanska delivered another assured performance to defuse Muguruza and run out a 7-6(1), 6-3 winner.
Both Radwanska and Muguruza suffered opening-night heartbreak, frittering away commanding final-set leads against Svetlana Kuznetsova and Karolina Pliskova, respectively. The Spaniard twice served for the match against Kuznetsova, and this nightmare came back to haunt her at 5-4 in the opening set against Radwanska.
In truth, it owed more to the brilliance of the Pole, who set up a trio of break points thanks to a wondrous drop shot-lob volley combination. Muguruza saved the first but could do nothing on the second as a down-the-line forehand slid out of her reach. Radwanska compounded her misery by playing a flawless tie-break, finished off with a trademark crouching backhand.
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The second was just as evenly contested, yet once again it was the No.2 seed - who finished with just 12 unforced errors - playing the more assured tennis when it mattered most, rattling off the final four games to keep alive hopes of another Singapore semifinal.
"There were a lot of ups and downs, obviously, and I think there were a lot of breaks as well so it was an open [first] set," Radwanska said to on-court interviewer Andrew Krasny. "I'm just happy that I could play a good tie-break - that helped a lot! - and win in two sets.
"I've got great memories from last year, I was really feeling good on court. I really appreciated the Polish fans and Polish voices."
She will need to draw on this support in Friday's showdown against Pliskova, the winner of which will join group winner Kuznetsova in the knockout stage.