Singapore | Wozniacki blitzes Halep – Garcia edges Svitolina
Caroline Wozniacki went into her Day 4 match holding the edge over Simona Halep, having won three of their five matches and took three minutes over the hour to extend her record to four.
While the former World No1 prevailed in Dubai in 2012, Stuttgart in 2015 and Eastbourne earlier this year, the current World No1 had won at New Haven in 2013 and Dubai two years later.
Rather like Garbiñe Muguruza the day before, Halep didn’t really turn up and was a shadow of the player who opened proceedings in the Red Group on Monday.
The Dane had lost just two games against Elina Svitlona in Singapore while the Romanian had to use all her resources to dispatch Caroline Garcia in straight sets, she had played convincingly well.
Other than Garcia, all three have a chance to end the year as the World No 1, as did Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova, Venus Williams and Jelena Ostapenko coming into the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
I feel like I’m back where I’m supposed to be. It’s been a great year for me and I’m finishing it off in style. I played really well today and just went out and was aggressive. Caroline Wozniacki
Ostapenko’s two-match loss in the White Group, however, rules her out of the running as she can no longer qualify for the semi-final knock-out stage later this week.
Wozniacki was in imperious form against Halep on Wednesday evening, surprisingly blanking her opponent 6-0 in the opener before the Romanian managed to get herself onto the scoreboard early in the second set.
The Dane’s impeccable groundstrokes and persistent retrieving unsettled the World No 1, who could not find her range and made a string of unforced errors.
Halep dug deep to find some kind of form and earned herself a first break point of the match at 3-1 in the second set, but was aced by a Wozniacki second serve, threat over.
The Dane went on to hold the game on her third advantage point to go up 4-1.
Although Halep mustered sufficiently to win her next serve, Wozniacki eased ahead to go up 5-2 and it was all over, 6-0 6-2.
With the victory, Wozniacki has recorded three wins against World No 1 players in 2017, having defeated Muguruza en route to winning the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, and Pliskova at the Rogers Cup in Toronto.
In the first set, Halep won only 10 of the 35 points played, and Wozniacki never faced a break point.
In all the 14 games played, Halep totalled 17 unforced errors, unable to find her rhythm against the top-notch defence which was on display from the other end.
Wozniacki broke Halep 5 times in 8 opportunities, hitting 3 aces and 9 winners, and saved the lone break point she faced, which could have put Halep back on serve in the 4th game of the second set.
“I felt like I played very well. Obviously she got frustrated and I felt like I was doing everything just a little bit better,” said the Dane.
“I feel like I’m back where I’m supposed to be. It’s been a great year for me and I’m finishing it off in style.
“I played really well today and just went out and was aggressive.
“I wasn’t expecting to be leading by that much in the first set.
“Even if you lose the first match, you still have nothing to lose,” added Wozniacki.
“It’s just a nice cushion to have. I think that kind of motivates me to start off strong and just go for it.
“I just ran a lot of balls down and I played aggressive and I mixed up the pace. Everything I wanted to do was going my way.”
Wozniacki will play Caroline Garcia in the final round robin match on Friday.
Garcia and Elina Svitolina were level at one win apiece in the head-to-head going in to the final match of Day 4, the Ukranian having won in Cincinnati in 2015, while the Frenchwoman prevailed in three sets in Beijing earlier this year.
Both had lost their opening encounters and needed to score a win to stay in the mix of the Red Group.
At a set and a break down, Garcia was in tears as she let out all her emotions to her father, who is her coach, on court.
Seeded eighth for the tournament, Garcia knew defeat in Singapore would spell the end of her season, but she mustered her game and turned things around to take the set and force a third set.
With the Ukranian going up a set and a break, leading 2-1, Garcia had won 5 of the last 6 remaining games, coming back from down 0-40 and serving out at 5-3.
At the beginning of the third set, Svitolina struggled on serve and Garcia played aggressively as they exchanged breaks.
It was a rollercoaster marathon of a contest that took yet another turn when Svitolina broke the Frenchwoman twice in the decider and had a chance for the match at 5-3.
The 23-year-old faltered when it mattered most, playing defensively as Garcia pulled off a string of magnificent winners to break back and stay in the match.
Svitolina failed again to successfully serve for the match at 5-4, and lost four consecutive games in total, allowing Garcia to break her to score a memorable win, 6-7(7) 6-3 7-5, in 2 hours and 44 minutes of enthralling play, and keeping alive the French dream of winning the end-of-season tournament..
In all, Garcia hit 58 winners and 31 unforced errors, while Svitolina scored 33 against 22.
With Wozniacki all but guaranteed a spot in the semis, the remaining one will be taken by the winner of the Halep vs Garcia match on Friday.
Svitolina, meanwhile, is technically still in the competition but she needs a miracle and a routing of Wozniacki to qualify.
It was the second time in a matter of weeks that Garcia came from behind to beat Svitolina, who was made to pay for her tentative approach at the back end of sets.