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WTA Finals: Kerber seeks reversal of fortunes, Radwanska hoping for luck

October 22, 2016 17:06 IST

Angelique Kerber

IMAGE: Angelique Kerber of Germany and Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland sit on stage during the Official Draw Ceremony prior to the BNP Paribas WTA Finals in Singapore. Photograph: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images for WTA.

Angelique Kerber showed more passion in the media centre than on the court when she crashed out of last year's WTA Finals, the German angered by the format and frustrated by her inability to win the set off an eliminated opponent she needed to advance.

Her petulance then provided a sideshow to the eight-woman season-ending tournament but this year she returns as world number one, a double grand slam winner, Olympic silver medallist and a woman on a mission.

Prior to 2016, the 28-year-old from Bremen was a respected professional on the circuit and a regular winner on the WTA Tour yet despite her incredible athleticism and retrieving skills, Kerber's mental fragility could be exploited by the very best.

"For me last year it was not the best tournament with the pressure with the one set that I had in my mind," Kerber told reporters on Saturday.

This year, Kerber decided a change of attitude was needed and she vowed never let her emotions get the better of her again. That new maturity was evident when she made a solid start to the season but few could have predicted her meteoric rise.

Agnieszka Radwanska returns to the scene of her greatest triumph next week when she opens the defence of her WTA Finals title and the 27-year-old Pole is the first to admit that luck can be as important as skill to emerge victorious in Singapore.

Angelique Kerber

IMAGE: The 2016 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore’s singles field poses with the Billie Jean King Trophy at Merlion Park overlooking Marina Bay in Singapore. Left to Right: Madison Keys (USA), Karolina Pliskova (CZE), Agnieszka Radwanska (POL), Angelique Kerber (GER), Simona Halep (ROU), Garbine Muguruza (ESP), Dominika Cibulkova. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images.

Radwanska become the first player in the history of the elite eight-woman tournament to lose two of her three round robin matches before claiming the title after she made the most of her good fortune to secure a surprise victory.

Seeded fifth, Radwanska lost to Maria Sharapova and Flavia Pennetta and looked all but out of the tournament before a straight-sets win over Simona Halep sneaked her through to the semi-finals with a 1-2 record on sets won.

The Pole then displayed all of her usual resilience to rally past Spaniard Garbine Muguruza in three sets before she held off Petra Kvitova to claim the title with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 victory.

"I definitely had couple of great matches," she told reporters on Saturday as she recalled last year's triumph.

"Obviously not the great start but I think it's a tournament that you can come back and a tournament that you don't need to win every match just to win the title," the world number three added.

"There is always the hope. A little bit of luck as well. Depends of the other scores in the group and then you can still win it. So I think that's what I actually proved last year."

Radwanska admits that she loves the unpredictable nature a tournament involving the top eight players of the season can provide, despite the absence of world number two Serena Williams for a second straight year due to injury.