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Agnieszka Radwanska vs Garbine Muguruza WTA Finals Singapore tennis live: Loser could be eliminated from Singapore

Hannah Wilks in News 25 Oct 2016
  • Agnieszka Radwanska faces Garbine Muguruza in the round-robin stages of the WTA Finals Singapore on Wednesday
  • Radwanska vs Muguruza WTA Finals tennis is live from Singapore on Wednesday at 9pm local/2pm BST
Agnieszka Radwanska (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

In a rematch of last year’s semifinals, defending WTA Finals Singapore champion Agnieszka Radwanska faces off with Garbine Muguruza on Wednesday with the loser risking elimination at the season-ending championships. 

Agnieszka Radwanska and Garbine Muguruza face off in a must-win match, with the loser risking elimination, at the WTA Finals Singapore on Wednesday.

While both Radwanska and Muguruza are guaranteed to play one more match in Singapore after they face off on Wednesday, they still share a perilous position coming into this match. Both women lost a heartbreaker in their first round-robin match on Monday – each of them had match point, in fact, before losing in three – leaving both of them at risk of elimination before the knock-out stages. Neither Radwanska nor Muguruza can be eliminated on Wednesday if they win, but the loser will be eliminated if the player who beat them on Monday wins on Wednesday – i.e. if Kuznetsova beats Pliskova and Radwanska beats Mugurza, Muguruza will be eliminated; if Pliskova beats Kuznetsova and Muguruza beats Radwanska, Radwanska will be eliminated.

It will be tough under those circumstances to keep one’s focus, especially as Radwanska and Muguruza are scheduled second on court on Wednesday and will know exactly what’s at stake when they take the court.

Under the circumstances and given how each woman played on Monday, it’s tempting to tap Radwanska as the probable winner. A much more seasoned competitor at the season-ending championships – she won it last year, after all – Radwanska has plenty of experience at navigating these round-robin situations. 
Moreover, she may have lost to Kuznetsova on Monday, but it certainly wasn’t because she put in a bad performance. Despite coming into the match with a 4-12 head-to-head against Kuznetsova and having lost a heartbreaker against her a few weeks ago in Wuhan, Radwanska played this match to win and she came very, very close to doing just that against a player who’s really a nightmare match-up for her. Having quite clearly worked up a game plan that involved pushing herself to attack as much as possible, even if it meant exposing herself to counterattack, and going for winners – two things generally anathema to Radwanska – the world no. 3 did not panic or abandon her game plan even when Kuznetsova overturned a 1-4 deficit in the first set and took it 7-5 (and given that two passing shot winners from Kuznetsova with Radwanska at net were instrumental in that first set, the temptation to give up that idea must have been overwhelming). Instead, she gamely plugged away at the same tactics and got her reward, eventually working herself into a position where she served for the match. 

Unfortunately, Radwanska retreated into her shell at the crucial moment and put a tight backhand into the net on match point, and Kuznetsova grabbed the lifeline with both hands and got the win, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5. She’ll have kicked herself for it soundly, but the fact is that Radwanska is far too savvy a competitor – and has been playing such consistently high-quality tennis since the US Open – to let that defeat impact her when she takes the court against Muguruza on Wednesday.
Muguruza may have come equally close to winning, but one doubts that she’s going to handle defeat as well, because she came into this tournament with nothing like Radwanska’s winning form. Apart from her superb form at the French Open where she claimed her first Grand Slam title and semifinals in Rome and Cincinnati, Muguruza’s season has been erratic at best and she looks a long way from the confident form of 12 months ago when she steamrolled her way through the round-robin stages 3-0. She also has health concerns, with a lucrative scheduled exhibition against Maria Sharapova after the season ends being postponed so that she can have treatment on her troublesome ankle. Against Pliskova, Muguruza trailed 2-6, 0-3 before she finally changed her tactics, starting to put a lot more rotation and height on her forehand and using it to maneouvre Pliskova out of position before flattening out the ball to attack. It worked, Muguruza edged Pliskova in a gritty second-set tie break and then, invigorated by taking the second set, looked for a few games like the Roland Garros edition of herself as she rolled to a 5-2 lead and served for the match. 

Then she served for the match again. Then she lost it 5-7. 

Radwanska may have slightly wavered against Kuznetsova and allowed her back in, but Muguruza – with exponentially more capacity to dictate points and decide her own fate – outright collapsed in a way that spoke volumes about how much is missing from her game right now. Given that holding her nerve and continuing to go for her shots and make them has always been the key to beating Radwanska for Muguruza, it doesn’t bode well at all for Wednesday’s clash.
Muguruza leads the overall head-to-head with Radwanska 4-3, winning four in a row against her in 2015 before Radwanska finally struck back in the semifinals of last year’s WTA Finals, coming back from a set down to defeat Muguruza – who had gone 3-0 in the group stages as opposed to Radwanska’s 1-2 – 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-5. If memory serves, Muguruza really just ran out of steam in that match and didn’t have the energy, after a long season and a very successful Asian swing, to maintain her dominance. Now it’s hard to see the Spanish player, with the kind of tennis she has been playing, being able to get into a winning position against Radwanska – or hold her nerve to close it out if she can. 

Radwanska vs Muguruza is scheduled on Centre Court in Singapore at 9pm local/2pm BST 

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Agnieszka Radwanska vs Garbine Muguruza WTA Finals Singapore tennis live: Loser could be eliminated from Singapore

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