Pennetta was making her first appearance at the WTA Finals on Sunday and would have liked her chances against the number one seed, Simona Halep, who she had beaten four out of five previous times and defeated en route to winning the US Open last month. In Singapore, there was an entirely different outcome as Pennetta was well below-par, falling in straight sets to Halep, 6-0 6-3. Pennetta showed some early signs of why she can cause Halep so many problems, drilling a backhand down-the-line after an extended rally; however, more often that not, Pennetta was dumping backhands into the net and allowing Halep to dictate play.
There looked to be a potential for a change in the momentum in the second set when Pennetta held a hard fought service game to level up at 3-3. The Italian player just couldn’t get going on return and was crucially broken at 3-4 with Halep successfully serving out the match. Pennetta only found out that she would be in the line-up for Singapore during the middle of last week and the jetsetting around the world from Asia to Moscow and then back to Asia probably hasn’t helped her plight in preparing for the WTA Finals.
Radwanska started with much promise against Maria Sharapova, in pursuit of just a third victory over the Russian player. She played a clean opening set, winning it 6-4, but Sharapova’s powerful groundstrokes once again came up trumps for her in this match-up. Sharapova won, 4-6 6-3 6-4 in yet another lengthy three setter, this one lasting two hours and 47 minutes. It’s the third time in four years that Sharapova and Radwanska have played at the WTA Finals and Sharapova has won all three matches in three longgg sets. This one certainly took an age but that was fine because it was a fun match.
Radwanska mounted a mini-revival (mainly gifts from Sharapova) to come back from 2-5 to 4-5 in the third set. She had some great opportunities to level up at 5-5; Radwanska had 0-30 on the Sharapova serve but produced a tame backhand slice mid-rally that sat up and allowed Sharapova to put away the winner. Radwanska brought up two break points and looked to have it when she hit a cracking return down-the-line. However, as she approached the net to close it out, she hit it back to Sharapova who clawed her way out of trouble. It was a great opportunity for Radwanska to secure a rare win over Sharapova and she looked glum at the end.
Radwanska leads Pennetta in their head-to-head, 5-3. Radwanska won their most recent encounter in Doha, 6-1 6-1, earlier this year while Pennetta won their two matches in 2014, both in straight sets. Pennetta beat Radwanska to win her biggest title (pre-US Open) in Indian Wells where Radwanska was clearly bothered by a knee injury. Radwanska does have taping on her shoulder this week, which has cropped up many times over the last few years. Fatigue may be an issue but i’d still fancy Aga, based on her recent form, to take this match in straight sets.
Prediction: Radwanska d. Pennetta in 2 sets