Singapore | Svitolina sends Halep home
The World No 1 met her match on Day 6 of BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, and crashed out of the tournament.
Elina Svitolina shocked Simona Halep on Friday in straight sets, handing her friend, Caroline Garcia, a place in the semi finals on Saturday.
Svitolina, the World No 4 from Ukraine, was already eliminated after losing her first two matches but she took Halep down with her as she won 6-3 6-4 in 71 minutes.
Halep needed a victory to keep her campaign alive but the Romanian struggled to click into gear against a relaxed Svitolina at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
I played free it was a good match for me and I am very happy to finish in Singapore with the win Elina Svitolina
It means Garcia, the lowest-ranked player in the draw, tops the Red Group and will play Venus Williams on Saturday, while Caroline Wozniacki will face Karolina Pliskova in the other semi-final.
Svitolina went for her shots and dictated from the back of the court, rattling a shaky Halep, who had suffered a big loss to Wozniacki in her previous match.
“I played free it was a good match for me and I am very happy to finish in Singapore with the win,” the Ukrainian said.
Svitolina dictated from the start, breaking Halep’s tentative serve straight away and winning the opening three games before claiming the first set in 31 minutes.
Halep fought back in the second set with an early break but she was broken straight back and her head dropped when Svitolina claimed what turned out to be the decisive break in game seven.
Even though she endured disappointment in Singapore, Halep will finish the year as World No 1 if Pliskova does not lift the trophy on Sunday.
Earlier Garcia, the World No 8, admitted it felt surreal even to be in the tournament after her thrilling 0-6 6-3 7-5 victory over Denmark’s Wozniacki.
Garcia, who won her last two tournaments to reach the WTA Finals, was two points from elimination in the 10th game of the third set, but she dug deep to hand Wozniacki her first defeat of the competition.
Even so, Garcia had to endure a nervy wait until Svitolina beat Halep to send her into the last four.
The Frenchwoman lost to Halep but then beat Svitolina in her earlier matches.
“It was kind of weird, actually, to be here. I mean, I qualified last minute, two weeks before. I wanted to keep improving like I did. That’s why I think I won these two matches,” Garcia said.
“It was a great experience to be here, and it was some great matches and great battles,” she added.
“Physically, I’m good. I’m feeling good on the court, and it’s great after this end of the season to be still fit and everything, so it’s a lot of positives to take away.”
Wozniacki, who has been in sensational form in Singapore, described her first loss as annoying.
“I feel like I should have won that match, but it is what it is,” she said. “I had the chance to serve it out and I didn’t. That’s really it.”
Wozniacki seemed headed for a third straight victory after dominating in the early stages through controlled aggression off the baseline, precise counter-punching and clutch serving.
The 27-year-old had just one unforced error in an almost flawless first set lasting just 22 minutes, but the match took an unexpected turn in the second set when Wozniacki had a time violation and argued with the umpire during the third game.
Garcia capitalised and won four straight games en route to level the match, before outlasting Wozniacki in a tense third set to register her first win in their three career meetings.
Svitolina, who lost both her opening round-robin matches, secured two early breaks to move 4-1 ahead of Halep in the opener, and maintained her control to serve out for the first set.
The second saw Halep, who suffered elimination in the round robin stage for the third straight season, make the fast start this time around, breaking Svitolina’s opening service game only to hand the advantage immediately back.
Locked at 3-3, Svitolina continued to play with the freedom that was missing in her opening losses and more sloppy play from Halep enabled the Ukrainian to edge ahead and she sealed victory when the Romanian found the net on the second match point.
Halep appeared to be out of sorts during the match, and at one stage was the recipient of a pep talk from her coach, Australian Darren Cahill, but it wasn’t enough to lift her, and whether she now retains the World No 1 ranking at year’s end is beyond her control.
It is a bitter defeat for Halep since she will lose her crown as the World’s best if Pliskova wins the title on Sunday.