By Ros Satar, in Singapore

  • Agnieszka Radwanska [2] def. Karolina Pliskova [4] 7-5 6-3
  • Angelique Kerber [1] v Agnieszka Radwanska [2]
  • H2H: Radwanska leads 6-5
SINGAPORE – We come down to a straight fight between the World No. 1 and the defending champion at the WTA Finals.

 

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Agnieszka Radwanska [2] def. Karolina Pliskova [4] 7-5 6-3

It was winner takes all in the last round robin match of the white group after Svetlana Kuznetsova ran out of steam against Garbiñe Muguruza earlier in the day.

Radwanska was perhaps unfortunate to draw Kuznetsova as her first match – running high on momentum and adrenalin, they put on a show and it was an unfortunate loss from a thriller of a match. She was pushed hard by Muguruza in the first set of their clash before winning more comfortably in two sets, but this saw a few momentum swings to keep the crowd entertained.

Failing to convert on a break point in the opening game, first blood went to the Czech and given how quickly she can turn a match to her advantage, Radwanska had to stop the rot as quickly as possible, breaking Pliskova to get things back on serve, before breaking once more to take the first set.

The second seemed a far more nervy affair – so close to giving herself a chance to retain her title, she broke Pliskova early only to be pegged back. The Czech struck out for a 3-2 lead only for Radwanska to repay the favour to pull things level once more.

Pliskova blinked first, broken to love and just salvaging one point more and Radwanska served out for a place in her fourth semi-final in five years.

While everyone else who have exited the tournament are now ready for holidays, shopping, or insert some other non-racquet pastime here, Pliskova has the Fed Cup final to go. She laughed off the fact that her twin sister has been posting Instagram photos of her holiday, happy in the knowledge that by the time she takes her break, Kristyna will be back in training.

She told reporters: “Right now I can say that there can be last two matches in the season and in this year. Yeah, I have to get ready. There is no other choice. I just get ready. There is one week between, so I’ll just rest a little bit and forget about tennis for few days. Then back to the work for that last week of tennis this season.

“Once I’m on holidays she’s practicing, so I’m going to pay it back to her. No, obviously she finish the season earlier than me so everything is different scheduling for her. She’s now on holidays, and then she’s practicing I think next week. Then I have off and she’s going to be practicing. It’s going to be the other way (Smiling).”

With the run now on to the final weekend, Radwanska keeps her title defence alive, and it has been over a year since they last played, with Radwanska coasting past her in the last encounter in straight sets. All five of Kerber’s wins over Radwanska have been on hard courts, including a win at the 2013 WTA Championships. This court may have played into Radwanska’s hands against a heavy server like Pliskova but it will be far more of a leveller for the semi-final.

Both can run and run forever, both can retrieve, but maybe Kerber has a slight edge in having wanted to actively increase her aggressive play and, as she frequently tells us, to just ‘go for it.

Yet if faced with Radwanska’s more canny use of angles and witchery to make the ball dance, Kerber can be sure that she can keep going and not tire. Whichever way the chips may fall, we can be sure of a long match and it should be one of the most competitive.

Prediction: Kerber in three sets.

 

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