It was a good day out on court for Caroline Wozniacki and World #1 Simona Halep, as the pair kicked off their respective pursuits of the WTA Finals title in Singapore in style with commanding straight sets victories.
Simona Halep got revenge over her nemesis from Beijing, Caroline Garcia, in a 6-4 6-2 win during the early session. The Romanian was in fine form as she roared her way to victory, in a match that lasted an hour and twenty-seven minutes. Garcia could not provide the answer to Halep’s powerful groundstrokes, which took the energy out of the Frenchwoman’s game and forced her on the defensive at every opportunity. Halep was versatile, reacting successfully to Garcia coming to the net more frequently in an attempt to change things up for her. She also served better than the World #8, who did not record a single ace throughout the match. This is poor from a player whose serve is normally such a weapon.
Halep was fired up. It is evident that she wants to finish this year on a high, and with this performance, it seems as though she has put the disappointment of Beijing behind her, and could be on course for winning the title in Singapore. The biggest question that she has to answer now is whether she can maintain the intensity that she showed today for the duration of the rest of the tournament. Moreover, she came up against an opponent in Garcia who could not get the consistency in their game at all. It will be fascinating to see how Halep will look to deal with the other two players in the group, who featured in the next session.
The second match of the afternoon was a more straightforward affair. Wozniacki produced a wonderful performance to completely dismantle Elina Svitolina, 6-2 6-0. It was Wozniacki’s first career-win over Svitolina, and it appears as though the Dane is finding her best form at the right time. She moved much better than her opponent today, and counterpunched to great effect. Svitolina, on the other hand, simply fell apart after holding serve to make it 2-2 in the first set. The Ukranian could not control the baseline, and Wozniacki’s consistent serving (72% for the entire match) pegged her back at every opportunity. She tried to go for the winners, but her shot making lacked the variety that was needed to disrupt Wozniacki’s rhythm, instead hitting 18 unforced errors to Wozniacki’s 5. The World #4 is still in contention and she has her destiny in her own hands, but this was not the start that she would have wanted.
For Wozniacki, however, things could not have gone better. She now leads the “Red Group,” ahead of Simona Halep on game difference. The World #6 looked calm, composed, and relaxed throughout the match, and if she carries on in this form, we could be in for a mouth-watering clash when she faces Halep within the next rounds.
Focus will shift to the”‘White Group” tomorrow, as Jelena Ostapenko and Venus Williams will go head-to-head in the early session. The loser of this match will, most likely, be eliminated from the competition. Therefore, both players will be looking to keep their title hopes alive with a win. Karolína Plíšková and Garbiñe Muguruza face off in the later session, with both players comfortably winning their opening matches in straight sets. This match will give us a further indication of these players’ title credentials, and it will be a match that tennis fans around the world will not want to miss.