Simona Halep avenged her China Open final defeat as she began the WTA Finals – and her reign atop the world rankings – with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Caroline Garcia.
Two weeks ago, Halep’s coronation as the world No.1 in waiting was somewhat tempered by defeat to Garcia in Shanghai, a result that also effectively sealed the Frenchwoman’s place in Singapore.
But in her first outing as No.1 in the world, Halep performed as if she intends to stay there for some time. After just 87 minutes, the Romanian had called an abrupt end to Garcia’s 11-match winning streak with a confident victory.
“I feel great that the first tournament where I’m No.1, I won the first match,” Halep said.
“It’s nice and I did enjoy the time on court.”
A tight first set hinged on a break of the Garcia serve at 4-4, with the world No.8 double faulting twice to hand Halep the initiative, which she duly seized.
Halep then pulled away in the second set, moving the ball – and Garcia – around the court at will as she won five straight games en route to a 5-2 lead. The final game was a slightly nervy affair, but the Romanian converted her second match point courtesy of a forehand error from Garcia.
“I’m in a place that I have never been, with the happiness, also with my inside feelings about everything that happened this year,” Halep said post-match.
“I think it was my best year so far, and after I had so many difficult moments, I was able to come back stronger. It’s really nice, and for sure I will never forget.”
In the second match, Caroline Wozniacki overwhelmed WTA Finals debutant Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-0 to make an assertive start in Singapore.
Before the match, Wozniacki trailed Svitolina 3-0 in their head to head, but produced an aggressive, efficient display to record her first victory against the Ukrainian, hitting 16 winners to just five unforced errors, and converting every one of her five break point opportunities.
The opening exchanges were evenly contested, with the first games won by the server, but Wozniacki suddenly stepped on the accelerator, winning the next 10 games in a row to wrap up her 11th top 10 victory of the year – the most by any player on the WTA tour.
“I think I played really well and I served well and stayed aggressive,” Wozniacki said.
“It was close, especially in the beginning.
“I think I just kind of broke her down a little bit. Then I think she lost the belief or she tried to go a little bit more for it. You know, she just couldn’t find a break or find a way to break me.”
Wozniacki will face Halep next, while Svitolina will look to regroup against Garcia.