Top seed Simona Halep cemented her position as the world number one after solidifying her status with an impressive victory over eighth seed Caroline Garcia in her opening match of the 2017 WTA Finals, with the Romanian getting the perfect start to her Singapore campaign. This was Halep’s official debut match as the top-ranked player and she managed to exact revenge for her heartbreaking loss in the final of the China Open, which was coincidentally both players’ last match coming into Singapore.
Win over Halep allowed Garcia to qualify for Singapore
Garcia came into Singapore on the run of 11 straight victories, clinching the titles in Wuhan and Beijing which allowed her to jump from 20th to eighth in the Porsche Race to Singapore just within two weeks, surging up the official rankings along the way. These two have met recently in the championship match of the China Open, where Halep already achieved the top spot with a run to the final.
However, the Romanian was unable to match up against the inspired Frenchwoman, who took home the biggest title of her career and the win against Halep was enough to seal her qualification for the year-ending Championships.
Nervy start for Halep
Even though she has not played a match in two weeks, Garcia’s momentum did not seem to be coming to a halt after the Frenchwoman produced some solid serving and great follow-ups in the opening game of the match for a comfortable service hold. Halep was initially uncomfortable dealing with the pace of Garcia’s powerful groundstrokes and was often overpowered as she conceded two break point opportunities in her first service game. Going big on second serves was risky yet effective as Halep eventually managed to hold serve in the longest game of the match.
Halep breaks through
Being 1-2 down, Halep was the second-best player on the court especially when Garcia was clinical on her serve, not letting Halep expose any loopholes in her game. However, it was surprisingly the world number one who made the first breakthrough as she claimed eight of the next nine points with Garcia starting to misfire all her shots. An on-court coaching session seemed to have provided much help to the Frenchwoman, breaking straight back to level the scores before holding serve for a 4-3 lead.
The Romanian regains her composure and takes the first set
A confident service hold saw Halep level the scores at 4-4 but the pressure eventually got to Garcia on the biggest stage of women’s tennis, throwing in a crucial double-fault on break point as she gifted Halep with the golden opportunity to serve out the set. The Romanian was simply just unstoppable, sending in an excellent backhand down-the-line winner to seal the first set 6-4 after 50 minutes.
Halep jumps out to a huge lead
Garcia looked determined to produce the comeback after regaining her composure to claim the comfortable service hold in the opening game of the second set. Halep started to reflect why she was the top-ranked player in the world, losing just one point in the next two games to grab the early break. The lead seemed to be a curse for the Romanian as she followed it up with two double-faults with Garcia earning a 0-40 lead.
From there, Halep played her best tennis we saw throughout the encounter, managing to outpower and utilize the depth on her groundstrokes to consolidate the break for a 3-1 lead, winning five straight points to do so.
Garcia continued to be impatient on the important points and produced several unforced errors while being 40-0 up in her service game, with Halep getting more pumped as she wins a point. The backhands were a real weapon for the world number one as it helped her jump out to a double-break lead before consolidating for a formidable 5-1 lead within a blink of an eye.
Victory sealed for the world number one
Although Garcia was able to claim a consolation game, it was just all too late for a comeback as Halep ultimately sealed the impressive victory in just an hour and 28 minutes, taking her opening match in straight sets which puts her in an advantageous position to qualify for the semifinals.