- Poland's Radwanska is the defending champion
- Kuznetsova qualified by winning in Moscow title on Saturday
- Pliskova overcomes Muguruza
London (CNN)Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Down a break against Agnieszka Radwanska in the final set as she battled exhaustion, tennis star Svetlana Kuznetsova sat down in her chair and took the extraordinary step of cutting off some of her hair.
After chopping off a big chunk with a pair of scissors, it seemed as if a weight had been lifted.
The Russian came back from a match point down to beat Radwanska 5-7 6-1 7-5 in a group match at the season-ending tournament for the eight best female tennis players in the world.
"At some point, I was ready to let it go and just lay on the court and let them take me out of here," Kuznetsova said in a court-side interview after the match in Singapore.
"But I was just trying to stay in there and hang in there," added the 31-year-old Russian, who had qualified for the WTA's showpiece event at the last minute by winning the title in Moscow Saturday. She promptly flew 5,000 miles to Radwanska.
My hair or the match?
"Just playing every point," Kuznetsova said, when asked how she managed to win the match just 48 hours after her victory on home soil.
After the match, Kuznetsova told reporters she decided to go for the cut because her hair was in the way.
"I was trying to put it behind my headband, but my hair is very thick and heavy," she said. "In the end, when I was hitting the forehands, every time I would hit a good shot... it would hit my eye every time and I was struggling.
"I thought, 'okay, what's more important now - my hair which I can let grow or the match?'
Radwanska had no idea Kuznetsova had given herself a trim, joking with reporters: "Good thing she didn't cut anything else."
After trailing 4-1 in the opening set, Kuznetsova regained the initiative with aggressive play to get back to 5-5. Blasting a backhand down the line to set up a break point, she got the break with a forehand passing.
Serving for the first set at 6-5, Kuznetsova missed two set points before taking the set with her third.
Nicknamed "the ninja" for her trick shots from improbable angles, Radwanska has been voted a WTA Fan Favorite five times in a row.
Against the powerful Kuznetsova, the 27-year-old Radwanska didn't disappoint her public in the second set as she used her strong defensive skills to unsettle her opponent's rhythm.
Pinning an increasingly tired-looking Kuznetsova to the backhand corner, it looked like Radwanska was on the way to victory when she clinched an early break in the decider.
Kuznetsova seemed so exhausted, she appeared to be on the verge of tears at the start of the third set. Trailing 2-0, the Russian cut off some of her hair and then promptly broke back to level the match at 2-2.
Down 4-2, Kuznetsova fought back to 4-4, only for Radwanska to regain the lead and serve for the match at 5-4. But a tentative backhand on her first match point sealed her fate, as Kuznetsova went on to force the break and win the contest thanks to a forehand error.
The second match of the day between French Open winner Garbine Muguruza of Spain and US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova pitted two of the most ferocious hitters of the women's tour against each other.
Muguruza, who has struggled with her form since her grand slam breakthrough on the clay of Roland Garros in June, looked like she was on the way to a fourth straight defeat to Pliskova as she trailed a set and a break.
But an on-court chat with her coach, Sam Sumyk, temporarily worked wonders. The Frenchman told Muguruza to be more patient and "play the ball more" instead of going for one-shot winners.
Down 3-2 in the second set, Muguruza managed to stop Pliskova's momentum as she cut down on her error count and took the set on a tie-break.
But despite a 4-0 lead in the decider, Muguruza was unable to close it out. After the Spaniard squandered a match point at 5-2, Pliskova took the next five games and the match with attacking play.
"All the games were pretty close, I'm pretty happy that I made it," Pliskova said in a court-side interview after her 6-2 6-7 7-5 win.