WTA Finals 2014 Round Robin Day 3 - 5
Semifinal Slate Set in Singapore; Ivanovic Bows Out with a Win Over Halep
wtafinals.com: October 24, 2014 Singapore - Sometimes it's hard to keep track of who is best friends with who on the WTA. But let's see if we got this right: Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska have been close friends since childhood. But Wozniacki also hangs out with Serena Williams and they have publicly proclaimed themselves as best friends or "besties" as some like to say.
Friday turned out to be the day when having friends in the right places could help a player navigate through the group stages of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
In the opening match, Radwanska dropped a three set thriller to Maria Sharapova after mounting an incredible second-set resurrection where she trailed 5-1. Radwanska eventually turned the deficit into a 6-5 lead, but Sharapova battled back to tie it and ultimately lost the set in a tie-breaker. The slim loss eliminated Sharapova from the tournament, but that didn't keep her from winning the match, 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-2.
Radwanska ended up in a precarious position thanks to Friday's loss. She had no choice but to turn to her close friend, Wozniacki, for help in defeating Petra Kvitova and promised to take her shopping should she do her a solid Wozniacki delivered with a flawless performance, 6-2, 6-3, and expects to collect.
In the round robin finale, Ana Ivanovic needed to defeat Simona Halep in straight sets in order to advance ahead of Serena Williams. Ivanovic battled to win the first set 7-6(7) and was very much alive in the second set. She trailed 4-3 and lost control of her serve, the game, set and ultimately the tournament. To Ivanovic's credit, she worked hard to ultimately deny Halep a perfect round robin record. In the end, the Red Group ended with Halep, Williams and Ivanovic all finishing 2-1. Ivanovic ended up losing on a tie-breaker.
Saturday's semifinals will see best friends Williams and Wozniacki square off. The pair have met three times this season with the ,stakes growing each time. Williams bested Wozniacki in the Montréal quarterfinals and the Cincinnati semifinals and beat her in straight sets to win the US Open. Now, the best friends will compete for the right to play for the WTA title.
Halep and Radwanska met just twice this year, but this will mark the third time they meet in a tournament semifinal. Halep won the first meeting in Doha and Radwanska avenged that loss with a victory at Indian Wells.
Ana Ivanovic finished a memorable season with a memorable win, getting the better of Simona Halep in three topsy-turvy sets. After several years in the tennis wilderness, Ivanovic has returned to tennis' top table in 2014, winning 58 matches and four titles.
Victory number 58 was a bittersweet affair. Going into the match, Ivanovic knew nothing but a straight set win would suffice if she was to reach the semifinals, and when she recovered from 5-2 down to snatch the opening set, the weekend beckoned.
However, it was not to be as Halep hit back to take the second from a nervous Ivanovic. With the outcome of the group now decided, the players cast of the shackles the decider, Ivanovic, in particular, grasping the opportunity to attack at any opportunity.
And she was rewarded for her positive approach, claiming the decisive break in the eighth game before calmly serving out for a 7-6(7), 3-6, 6-3 win. Victories in her first two matches had already secured Halep's place in the semifinals and joining her there will be defending champion Serena Williams, who advanced due to conceding one less set in her three round robin matches than Ivanovic.
Kvitova Defeats Sharapova; Wozniacki Tops Radwanska; Serena Rebounds Past Bouchard
wtafinals.com: October 23 2014 Singapore - In her opening match at the WTA Finals, Caroline Wozniacki weathered a three-hour assault from Maria Sharapova before coming out on top. Her second opponent, Agnieszka Radwanska, presented an entirely different challenge, but the result was the same.
Riding high on the back of an impressive showing against Petra Kvitova, Radwanska was at her imaginative best during the opening exchanges, opening up a 3-0 lead. Few rival the Dane in terms of fighting spirit, though, and it was no surprise when she came roaring back.
After recovering the break in an epic fifth game, Wozniacki went on to pinch the set. The second followed a similar pattern, the Pole making the early running only to be reeled back in by her irrepressible rival, taking the last four games of the match to triumph, 7-5, 6-3.
The victory continues the former World No.1's dream WTA Finals return. She now tops the White Group with a 2-0 record but can only guarantee a semifinal place with victory over Petra Kvitova on Friday.
Three weeks after losing to Maria Sharapova in the Beijing final, Petra Kvitova exacted revenge in ruthless fashion. Their meeting in the Chinese capital stretched Kvitova's winless run against Sharapova to five matches, but while the result stung, the performance imbued her with confidence for the future. She drew from this experience for their Singapore rematch, recovering from an inauspicious start to run out a 6-3, 6-2 winner.
After looking out of sorts against Agnieszka Radwanska a few days ago, Kvitova took a while to get going against Sharapova. A couple of mistimed forehands and a double fault saw her drop serve, before the Russian extended her lead with a perfectly weighted drop shot.
This would be as good as it would get for Sharapova, though. Over the next half hour Kvitova barely put a foot wrong, winning six of the next seven games as the winners began to flow. She continued to dominate in the second, riding out a late wobble to close out the match when another forehand flashed past her shell-shocked rival.
Traditionally, Kvitova has performed well indoors, her low-margin game flourishing away from the elements. Two years ago, the Czech capped a brilliant autumn with victories in the WTA Finals and Fed Cup final, and she is now eyeing up further silverware. Kvitova now goes into her final round robin match, against Caroline Wozniacki on Friday, knowing that a straight set win will guarantee her a place in the semifinals. Sharapova, meanwhile, must defeat Agnieszka Radwanska in straight sets to keep alive not only her slim hopes of qualifying but also of claiming the year-end No.1 ranking.
In Red Group action, a day on from experiencing one of the most humbling defeats of her career, Serena Williams restored a sense of normality to the WTA Finals with an equally one-sided victory over Eugenie Bouchard.
Fifty-seven minutes was all it took for Williams to dismiss Bouchard, 6-1, 6-1, and move up into second place in the Red Group. If she is to reach the semifinals, the American must now hope her conqueror, Simona Halep, does her a favor against Ana Ivanovic on Friday.
Williams' victory means Halep has now qualified from the group, however, there is still plenty riding on the outcome her match with Ivanovic; should Halep take at least a set from the Serb, she will guarantee top spot and that Williams joins her in the knockout stages. After picking up just two games from Halep, Williams knew the defense of her WTA Finals crown hung by a thread and she responded by playing her best tennis since the US Open.
The American in no mood to hang around, firing winners from all over the court, eventually putting Bouchard out of her misery by swatting away an overhead on her first match point. Williams took out this frustration on the ball, a couple of fierce serves contributing to her total of 16 winners.
Red Group Win/Loss
1. Serena Williams: 2 - 1
4. Simona Halep: 2 - 1
7. Ana Ivanovic: 2 - 1
5. Eugenie Bouchard: 0 - 3
2. Maria Sharapova: 1 - 2
3. Petra Kvitova: 1 - 2
6. Agnieszka Radwanska: 2 - 1
8. Caroline Wozniacki: 3 - 0
WTA Finals Day Three
In-Form Halep Dominates Serena; Ivanovic Hands Bouchard Second Loss in Red Group
wtafinals.com: October 22 2014 Singapore - Producing her best tennis on the biggest stage, Halep sent shockwaves through the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, upsetting the four-time champion in just 65 minutes.
An out-of-sorts Williams could do nothing in the face of Halep's baseline precision, winning just seven points in the most one-sided of opening sets.An out-of-sorts Williams could do nothing in the face of Halep's baseline precision, winning just seven points in the most one-sided of opening sets.
She continued to chase shadows in the second and despite some belated resistance from the defending champion, it was a case of too little, too late. Halep brushed aside some final game jitters to complete a 6-0, 6-2 win when Williams found the net with a forehand.
Halep served well, dragged her opponent around the court with surprising ease and was ruthless in punishing anything remotely short of length. "I don't think it was her best day today, but I played really well, I was very aggressive and took the ball early, moved up the court very well, served very well - I've found my best tennis again. It's crazy!"
For Williams, one of the heaviest defeats of her career casts doubt over her future in Singapore. The last time she won so few games came in 1998 when she was defeated, 6-1, 6-1, by Joannette Kruger in Oklahoma City. The American has won the tournament on her past three appearances and goes into her final match, against Eugenie Bouchard, facing the possibility of falling at the first hurdle. The picture looks far rosier for tournament debutante Halep, who now tops the Red Group with two wins from two matches. In her final round robin encounter she takes on Ana Ivanovic.
On Monday, Ana Ivanovic was punished for failing to take her chances against Serena Williams. Forty-eight hours later, she made no mistake, ruthlessly brushing aside the challenge of Eugenie Bouchard in straight sets.
Throughout the season, Ivanovic has made no secret of her desire to reach Singapore and her disappointment after her opening night setback was clear for all to see. Unfortunately for Bouchard, any lingering frustration was taken out on the ball as the Serb flew out of the blocks.
In the blink of an eye the first set was gone and while the Canadian got a belated foothold in the second, she was swimming against the tide. Ivanovic extinguished any hope of a Bouchard comeback, breaking twice in the last three games to wrap up a 6-1, 6-3 win.
Ivanovic's only slight moment of concern came at 3-3 in the second set, when she saw a succession of break point slip through her fingers. Bouchard, who is competing in her first WTA Finals, now has to regroup for her final round robin match against Serena Williams. Earlier in the day, Williams slipped to her heaviest defeat since 1998, winning just two games against Simona Halep.