By Ros Satar, in Singapore
- Garbine Muguruza  def. Svetlana Kuznetsova  3-6 6-0 6-1
- Svetlana Kuznetsova  v Dominika Cibulkova 
- H2H: Cibulkova leads 5-3
SINGAPORE – Svetlana Kuznetsova had her first loss in a fairy-tale run at the WTA Finals – can she get her first win over Cibulkova in six attempts?
It had to happen. After a journey through scenarios, permutations and many many airmiles, Kuznetsova finally ran out of steam in the final round robin match.
Of course by now it did not matter – she was already through after her two gruelling three-setters, first recording a win over the defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska, and then coming from a set behind against Karolina Pliskova to book her spot in the last four.
That being said, at the start it did not look like the story was going to play out that way, taking the advantage before the first change of ends before breaking at the end of the first set for the lead.
Fair to say, Muguruza lifted her level to hit right back, and just kept on coming, even withstanding a single break point in that set in the final game, before converting on her own set point.
Perhaps the effort involved in dragging out six break points at the start of the decider was a step too far for the Russian. Unable to convert, she was broken fairly easily – it just was not happening for her.
There was a final flurry of saving a couple of match points before surrendering her only round robin loss. She may have experience of these tournaments, but playing effectively a dead rubber may not have been the best thing.
“It’s not the best thing to know overall. And, yeah, I mean, I’ve done the most important job in the past matches. Definitely you don’t want to lose the match. You try to fight. Sometimes the lack of energy just won’t let you do that.”
Cibulkova effectively dismantled Simona Halep to book her place in the semi-final, but comes into this match on a five-match winning streak against the Russian, so what did she think her chances would be to arrest that decline?
“It’s a little bit different surface, different balls, and the court tomorrow. I do remember quite a bit of that match. I know I will try to do the changes what I think didn’t work for me in that match. Of course obviously I’m not going to tell it now. (Laughter.)”
Of course after Cibulkova’s match, all she knew was that her place in the semi-finals depending on whether Kerber (already assured of her place in the semi-final) could get the job done against Madison Keys.
Now into the more familiar territory of straight knock-outs, it is all to play for. While the story would be great to continue for Kuznetsova, we have to feel that fatigue is going to play a huge part now for Kuznetsova who has to be running on fumes.
We can expect a big fight, but perhaps the fairy-tale ends here for Kuznetsova and continues for Cibulkova.
Prediction: Cibulkova in three sets
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