2014 WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global runner-up Simona Halep began her quest to go one better in 2015 by defeating reigning U.S. Open champion Flavia Pennetta 6-0, 6-3 in an hour and ten minutes. With this win, Halep gains the early advantage and will move to the top of the red group and will play Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.
Flawless Opening Set From Halep
The opening set was all Simona Halep. The world number two has suffered from a combination of leg injuries, which included her thigh and most recently, her Achilles. After Halep retired in the first round of the China Open, there were questions surrounding how serious her injury was and if that would affect her preparations for the WTA Finals in Singapore. After a solid few days of training, the Romanian came out all guns blazing, leaving Flavia Pennetta at a loss for answers.
Halep did well to neutralize the positioning of Pennetta, something she didn’t do when the two met in the semifinals of the US Open last month. The Romanian maintained great depth on her ground strokes and defended extremely well, leaving her Italian counterpart stuck a good three to four feet behind the baseline for the majority of the rallies in the opening set. Halep’s consistency was ultimately the deciding factor in the set as Pennetta was misfiring more than usual, something she rarely did against the Romanian in New York last month.
After going up a double break in relatively comfortable style, the top seed held to love and was well on her way to going a set clear in this round robin match. Minutes later, Halep earned herself her first set point and she only needed the one to serve the U.S. Open champion a rare “bagel” at the WTA Finals. The Romanian looked to be in devastating form and Pennetta had her work cut out for her.
Halep Clinches Crucial Break, Seals Comprehensive Win
The second set was a much tighter affair as Pennetta raised her level considerably to go toe-to-toe with Halep from the baseline. After getting on the board in game eight, the Italian was able to settle some nerves and began to swing more freely. Despite raising her level a couple of notches, Pennetta was unable to make inroads in Halep’s service games in an attempt to break serve, and vice versa. After staying on serve for the first seven games of the second set, the Romanian began to put her foot on the accelerator with some relentless ground strokes when she sensed an opportunity was about to present itself. Despite Pennetta’s best efforts, Halep was able to convert her fourth break point of the game to go up a set and 5-3. In the end, the top seed only needed one chance to serve out the match to seal a clinical 6-0, 6-3 win over reigning U.S. Open champion Flavia Pennetta.
Quotes From Halep and Pennetta After the Match
“I played fast, I played smart and aggressive I think,” Halep said after the match. “I was really enjoying the match today. I was really happy to be back here.”
“She play, I think, really consistent. She was playing really well today,” Pennetta said when asked to reflect on the match to the media. “Everything was working in the good way. Maybe I had not too much energy. I didn't push a lot like always did.”
“Of course I would love to have played a little bit better, but I still have my chance. I'm really enjoying playing this event. I still have two matches I have to play, so we will see what happens.”
“I have many things that I just want to work again on them, still continue to work,” Halep said when asked if she played her best tennis against Pennetta. “I think return was good, so everything in a big picture was good. But still, I'm not 100% satisfied.”