WTA Finals: Angelique Kerber battles past Simona Halep

The world number one conquers the lead of the Red Group with an important straight-set win against the Romanian.

WTA Finals: Angelique Kerber battles past Simona Halep
Angelique Kerber won both of her round robin matches at the 2016 WTA Finals so far [Photo credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images]
Angelique Kerber
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Simona Halep

Angelique Kerber secured her place at the top of the Red Group at the WTA Finals with her second straight victory, defeating Simona Halep 6-4, 6-2 in a match that showed high and lows from both players, but more consistency from Kerber during the most important parts of the match. Against the Romanian weighed 35 unforced errors that negatively affected her performance.

With two wins and only one set lost (against Dominika Cibulkova), now the German could be more confident about reaching the semifinals in Singapore for the first time in career, on her fourth try.

Angelique Kerber in action during her round robin match against Simona Halep [Photo credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images]

Halep attempts a comeback, Kerber reacts to claim the lead

The German claimed an immediate control of the set; she gained an early break and then claimed a long, battled game to secure a 2-0 lead, helped by multiple forehand errors from her opponent. 

After a hold from Halep, Kerber secured her lead with a very quick game on serve. From 0-30 behind in the next game, Halep overcame her struggle, stringing four points in a row to hold and remain in the set. The Romanian took advantage of a tough time for Kerber to fight back, and converted her first break point of the match to level off at a 3-all scoreline. At the top of her game, she then held to take the lead for the first time in the set.

Kerber seemed to recollect herself after two struggling games, and played aggressively to save one more break point and hold her following game. She kept the momentum on her return, and quickly gained one more break point against an again-struggling Halep. Two errors from the Romanian gifted the first seed one more break and a chance to serve for the set.

An on-court coaching visit didn't make a great difference for Halep, as the German didn't waste any more time and converted her first set point to conquer the lead with a 6-4 scoreline.

Simona Halep hitting a forehand during her match against Angelique Kerber [Photo credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images]

Kerber gains another early advantage, consolidates it to get the win

Like the first one, the second set started with a quick, early break from the world number one, who once again consolidated it right away for a 2-0 lead, saving two break points with a huge help from Halep's unforced errors. Back on serve, the Romanian wasted a chance to hold and gifted her opponent a chance to go 3-0 up; she saved it to win her first game of the set. She then rallied back to threaten the German on her own serve, but once again too many errors sabotaged her performance.

Halep's struggles continued during her next service game, where she managed to win only one point against an opponent now completely in control of the match. One more error from the Romanian on the first break point summed up the trend of her late part of the match. The series of errors continued, and Kerber secured a 5-1 lead.

From 0-30 down, Halep reacted and rallied back to hold, but it didn't interrupt Kerber's momentum. Serving for the match, the German played solid, fighting back the last attacks from the Romanian - who hit two of her best winners of the match on Kerber's first match points - and saving two break points.

One last error from Halep - with a ball out by inches, confirmed by HawkEye - eventually sealed the match for Kerber, after an hour and 22 minutes of play.

This match didn't show either of the players at their best, but far too many errors from the Romanian, especially on returns, made a huge difference against Kerber, who was the more consistent during the entire match, especially after the break she gifted during the first set. 

Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep shaking hands after their tuesday match in Singapore [Photo credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images]
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The Red Group now sees Angelique Kerber in the lead with two wins, and Dominika Cibulkova at the bottom with two losses. Simona Halep and Madison Keys (who lost to Halep on Sunday in straight sets) can count both on one win and one loss, with two sets won and two lost, keeping their hopes alive and everything still open until the last matches.