By Ros Satar, in Singapore

  • Agnieszka Radwanska [2] v Karolina Pliskova [4]
  • Garbiñe Muguruza [5] v Svetlana Kuznetsova [8]
SINGAPORE – It all comes down to this for Agnieszka Radwanska as the defending champion must win to advance.

 

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Agnieszka Radwanska [2] v Karolina Pliskova [4] – H2H: Radwanska leads 6-0

Lining up to close the White Group’s action, all eyes will be on this match as defending champion Radwanska will look to grab the lifeline offered and hang on to her title defence.

It was another tough three-setter for the Czech who flipped things around very effectively against Garbiñe Muguruza in her opening round in the final set, but could not quite find that same magic against the veteran Russian.

She admitted in her press conference that her serve had gone off the boil, and her second serve was setting her up for punishment, and in her doubles on Thursday she was sporting enough strapping to make Tutankhamun look scantily clad.

Not only that but Pliskova’s record against Radwanska is painful with losses on every surface. While Radwanska may not posses the best serve in terms of free points and relies on movement – an area where Pliskova will always be vulnerable.

After a great start, the Czech faltered and experience plays a huge part in this group stages – you would have to give the edge to Radwanska to dominate the rallies and dictate the degree of pain she will inflict in terms of pulling Pliskova around.

That is not to say the Czech is completely devoid of skills elsewhere in the court – she has good feel at the net, but Radwanska’s variety will just be too much at this stage. Might she at least get a set off the Pole this time? We think unlikely.

Prediction: Radwanska in two sets.

 

Garbiñe Muguruza [5] v Svetlana Kuznetsova [8] – H2H: 1-1

What a difference a year makes. Off the back of her run to the Wimbledon final, and qualifying for both the singles and the doubles, Muguruza had looked unstoppable until she reached the semi-final with Radwanska, and with history repeating itself late on Wednesday night, the Spaniard was out of contention.

Understandably she was in no mood to talk about the forthcoming encounter with Kuznetsova, who really has been the story of the season end finale. But Muguruza did have a fair degree of admiration for the Kuznetsova journey (quite literally).

“It’s going to be a tough match against Kuznetsova. I been watching her. She’s playing incredible. So another tough match. I’m not expecting anything in particular honestly, just to run a lot.

“I’m actually happy for her. I practice a lot of time with her and she’s fighting a lot. Well, I’m amazed what she’s doing and she has still energy after all.”

A lot depends on how much Kuznetsova has got left in the tank (yes, we have said that for every preview so far). She has gained more wins in the group stages than on each of her previous five appearances. She qualifies top of the group no matter what the result is against Muguruza and the only element being played for in the next match is who takes the second spot.

The pair have never met on a hard court, splitting their wins down the middle. But on her current form, you have to look to the Russian to mirror Muguruza’s dominance from last year to go three-from-three.

Prediction: Kuznetsova in two sets.

Muguruza and Kuznetsova are scheduled not before 4pm (9am BST) with Radwanska and Pliskova not before 7:30pm (12:30pm, BST).

 

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