SINGAPORE: World number one Simona Halep delivered an ominous warning to her rivals at the WTA Finals with a crushing, straight-sets victory over the in-form Caroline Garcia yesterday. In her opening round robin match at the eight-player season finale, Halep halted Garcia’s 11-match winning streak with a 6-4, 6-2 masterclass in 88 minutes at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
It was sweet revenge for the recently crowned world number one from Romania, who lost to France’s Garcia in this month’s China Open final in Beijing. Garcia, the world number eight, had secured the last spot for Singapore after winning back-to-back titles in Wuhan and Beijing, but she was thoroughly outclassed in her debut WTA Finals match.
In a match-up of contrasting styles and sizes-with the 1.77m (5ft 10ins) Frenchwoman holding a 9cm height advantage-Garcia attempted to dictate through her powerful groundstrokes. Garcia also mixed up her game with an array of deft drop shots and volleying to have Halep on the back foot early on. But Halep’s famed defensive prowess and precision hitting soon told and she broke to love in the fifth game. Even though she was subsequently broken back, Halep gained in confidence and eventually claimed the decisive break in the ninth game when a rattled Garcia double-faulted. Halep clinched the opening set through a superb backhand winner down the line. She continued to press home the advantage with an early break in the second set and thwarted Garcia’s bid for a bold comeback.
Down three break points in the fourth game, Halep brilliantly reeled off five straight points to restore her initiative and she breezed through the second set in 38 minutes. – AFP