By John O'Brien
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Garbine Muguruza had the rare experience of winning her final match of the season without lifting a trophy, an almost fitting end to a year of frustration for the Spaniard who claimed her first grand slam but had little else to celebrate.
The 23-year-old beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 3-6 6-0 6-1 in her last round robin match at the WTA Finals on Friday, an emotional victory following two defeats at the elite eight-woman event that saw her exit the tournament in the group stage.
"It was a challenge for me today to see how I was going to react. I'm very happy of the way I played today, the way I handled the match," said the French Open champion, who knew she could not qualify before facing Kuznetsova.
"For sure a victory like today is going to keep me a little bit happier as it was a very tough tournament," she added.
"I had a match point in my opener (against Karolina Pliskova) then the second match (against Agnieszka Radwanska) was tough but I felt I got this one right. A little too late, but I still did it."
Muguruza struggled with an ankle injury prior to the tournament and the stress of a possible injury withdrawal was not the ideal preparation for such a prestigious event.
"I was emotional because I suffered a lot in the last month not knowing if I was going to qualify or not. I really wanted to be here and then I twisted my ankle so it was a drama for me," she added.
"Then the way the matches went, I couldn't make it to the semi-finals. I was just happy that I've been through it and I won the last match and I'm like done."
The Spaniard ended months of frustration in June when she beat Serena Williams to claim her maiden grand slam title in Paris but apart from that tournament, Muguruza said she had not enjoyed the best of seasons.
"I just feel a lot has been going on this year and after a good finish to 2015 I really wanted to kick on," she said.
"But the results weren't there and I was struggling. I was practicing hard and doing everything but not winning matches. So it created a lot of frustration.
"Then it calmed down and I finally got the results, and then everything changed a little bit. All these responsibilities, all these emotions. It was hard for me to deal with but I wouldn't change anything, obviously."
(Editing by Rex Gowar)