SINGAPORE, Oct 25: Svetlana Kuznetsova hacked off her own hair with a pair of scissors and burst into tears before saving a match point and beating the defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 at the WTA Finals.
Despite appearing on the verge of exhaustion and close to breaking down yesterday, Kuznetsova somehow summoned up the energy to win her opening round-robin match in dramatic fashion, less than 48 hours after she qualified for the prestigious end-of-season championship.
Spectators at Singapore�s Indoor Stadium looked on in stunned disbelief when the Russian gave herself an impromptu haircut early in the deciding third set, asking the umpire to get her a large pair of scissors before proceeding to chop off the end of her ponytail and tossing the loose strands onto her seat.
�It was bothering me a lot. I was trying to put it behind my headband, but my hair is very thick and heavy,� Kuznetsova explained.
�When I was hitting the forehands every time I would hit a good shot... It would hit my eye every time and I had to struggle.
�I thought, �ok, what�s more important now? My hair, which I can let grow, or the match?� I thought, �okay, I�ve got to go for it right now�, and that�s it.�
Radwanska said she didn�t even realise her opponent had cut off her locks during the match.
�I didn�t even know that,� she told reporters. �Good thing she didn�t cut her anything else. I think hair is not very important.�
Later, at the next change of ends, Kuznetsova returned to her seat and began to cry, sobbing into her towel before she regained her composure, wiping the tears from her cheeks and returning to the court to continue a gruelling contest which lasted almost three hours.
Her efforts looked to have been in vain when she dropped her serve to fall 5-4 behind and Radwanska got to match point but the Pole, who blew a 4-1 lead in the opening set, squandered her lone opportunity and Kuznetsova reeled off the last three games to register one of the bravest wins of her career.
A two-time grand slam winner, Kuznetsova was appearing in the WTA Finals, restricted to the world�s top eight players, for the first time since 2009 but the physical and emotional effort of qualifying appeared to take its toll.
Czech Republic�s Karolina Pliskova, appearing in the tournament for the first time after reaching the US Open final last month, also saved a match point in her 6-2, 6-7 (4-7), 7-5 win over French Open champion Garbine Muguruza. � AFP