The final matches from the red group will take place on Thursday with the first match of the day at not before 3pm local time between the number one seed, Simona Halep and the number five seed, Agnieszka Radwanska. Both players lost their second matches of the tournament but can still qualify for the semi-finals. Such are the joys with round robin play, there are many permutations…
So to sum up, the only way that Radwanska can qualify is if she beats Halep in straight sets and then Sharapova defeats Pennetta in straight sets. A straight sets win for Halep will be enough for her to qualify, but if she were to win in three, a straight sets win for Pennetta would knock her out of the tournament. Are you still with me? 😉
Radwanska came into Singapore as one of the in-form players but is 0-2 with losses to Maria Sharapova and Flavia Pennetta. In her second match, Radwanska came up short against a vastly improved Pennetta, losing out, 7-6(5) 6-4. Radwanska, sporting strapping on her leg and shoulder, had her chances in this one and didn’t play a bad match, hitting more than winners than unforced errors. However, Pennetta played the big points much better. Radwanska served for the first set at *5-4; she had a *30-15 opening but an ineffective slice whilst moving up the court didn’t trouble Pennetta who produced an accurate lob. Two errors followed to gift Pennetta a way back in. The Italian player edged the first set tiebreak, sealing it with a drop shot that dragged Radwanska out wide. Pennetta needed just the one break of serve in the second set to secure a crucial straight sets win.
In the marquee match from the redgroup, Halep came up short against a superb, Maria Sharapova. The Russian player prevailed, 6-4 6-4 in a gripping one hour and 54 minute encounter. The big talking point was how well Sharapova played. Her groundstrokes were punishing but most impressive of all was the way she defended. I don’t think Halep played her best match and now with a 0-6 head-to-head record against Sharapova, this is a mental match-up. In my opinion, Halep was too reactive to what Sharapova was doing and particularly in the first set, many of her balls were landing short and mid-court, allowing Sharapova to play her game.
Halep was a little more dynamic towards the end of the second set, narrowing the deficit from 1-5 to 4-5. However, as was the case with both sets, Halep was unable to hold her serve at *4-5 with Sharapova bringing out some of her very best tennis. Halep finished with just 10 winners to 14 unforced errors. It was a disappointing result for the Romanian player but her chances of qualifying for the semi-finals are still decent.
Halep and Radwanska are tied at 4-4 in their head-to-head although the Romanian player has won four of their last five matches. Radwanska’s lone win in the last two years was a 6-3 6-4 victory in Indian Wells. Since that match, Halep has taken full control of this match-up and she produced a commanding display in the semi-finals of the WTA Finals last year, winning 6-2 6-2. In their most recent encounter, Halep recovered from a first set bagel in Toronto to win, 0-6 6-3 6-1. I’d take Halep in this match-up and if she were to win the first set, which would end Radwanska’s hopes of qualifying, i’d fancy it to be a straight sets win.