WTA Finals Day 2 – No nonsense

Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki have done their chances of progressing in Singapore and potentially ending the year as world number one no harm what so ever.

I watched the first set and a half of Halep v Garcia before I left for work and after the first couple of games Halep was hanging on in there but she did it incredible well. The Romanian had that no nonsense look on her face from the first point and made it super difficult for the French woman who of course defeated Halep a few weeks ago in the Beijing final. Overall it was a solid performance from the Romanian who kept aggressive on the baseline and had that steel she has lacked in some big matches this year.

Test’s in Singapore don’t get tougher than Wozniacki. The Dane had lost twice to Svitolina this year in straight sets and both in finals going into this encounter but after a few holds of serve from both players but Wozniacki began to counter punch from the baseline and from 3-2 broke for a 4-2 lead and then won another 9 games in a row to see off the Ukrainian 6-2 6-0.

On courts like these you have to create your own pace and Svitolina couldn’t keep up with the brilliance of Caro on day 2 as the Dane and the Romanian showed great determination in their respective no nonsense wins!

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WTA Finals Singapore Preview – The Final Chapter of 2017

This year the WTA Finals celebrate 45 years. Winners include the best; Evert, Navratilova, Seles, Graf, Hingis, Davenport, Serena, Venus and many more top names in woman’s tennis. This year you could argue that the field is more open than ever before.

Recent winners in Singapore include Agnieszka Radwanska (2015) and Dominika Cibulkova (2016) and in all honesty the season after both have gone missing. I couldn’t tell you where either are ranked right now.

With no Serena, Vika, Sharapova or Kvitova the field has opened up this year and the opportunity has come but it’s not just about one week but the year after.

So, who is in the field this year?

  1. Simona Halep
  2. Garbine Muguruza
  3. Karolina Pliskova
  4. Elina Svitolina
  5. Venus Williams
  6. Caroline Wozniacki
  7. Jelena Ostapenko
  8. Caroline Garcia

Only two Grand Slam winners from this year will be in Singapore and those are Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza and surprise major winner Jelena Ostapenko who of course shocked Roland Garros in early June.

Nothing to prove…

Two ladies you could say have nothing to prove in Singapore are Caroline Garcia and Jelena Ostapenko. No one expected either to be here in Singapore. Jelena shocked the world with her aggressive forehand at the French Open and has grown a lot on the tour winning titles and showing she is up for the challenge.

Caroline Garcia had a steady year on the tour and recently took advantage of others bad fortune post Wimbledon but also she stepped up massively as she became the first player on the WTA tour to complete the Wuhan and Beijing double.

Nowhere to hide…

Halep, Muguruza, Pliskova. Three ladies who have achieved a lot already but need to find consistency. Out of the three I think Muguruza has been the best over the season but did start slowly. Halep has been good getting to certain stages of tournaments but as the new world number one I don’t still see that steel in her game a world number one needs. Pliskova was playing a blinder this year and after Wimbledon it fell down and maybe expectations on herself in Wimbledon and New York got too much for the Czech number one.

Veterans!

There is nothing wrong with being a veteran. Caroline Wozniacki is no stranger to Singapore and neither is the only former champion in the field Venus Williams. Both bring big game experience to the finals. Venus at 37 has had an incredible year and likewise for Caro, to reach Singapore is a great achievement and I hope she does well here. Looking back on her season she’d probably liked to have done well in the majors especially New York.

Wildcard

My one to watch and favourite. Elina Svitolina has had a solid year on the tour. Her all-round game which was very good at the beginning of the year is much better. She brings great variety, fight, determination and a can do attitude which is what I like to see and which is why I think she is a favourite.

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The new world No.1 still has an awful lot of work to do!

Reaching world number one is a great achievement for Simona Halep however there is so much work to do.

I am a big fan of Halep but I’d have to say I think she isn’t the best player in the world right now.

Amazingly Simona Halep has never won more than 75% of matches played in a calendar year and her win/loss ratio usually sits at approximately and average of 3/1 which isn’t world number one and Grand Slam quality hence just the two appearances in a Grand Slam final.

There are great parts of her game but inconsistencies which do let her down. The second serve can go from solid to sloppy overnight and that is one aspect that is halting her progress. Every time a major tournament comes around you’d say she is a contender but then at the same time is she a realistic contender or is it because of ranking?

Reaching No.1 is a great achievement, she has fought a lot but if I am going to be picky then there does need to be more steel in the serve and groundstrokes and as world number one comes that added pressure and in Singapore all eyes will be on the top player and you can’t go missing in Singapore.

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Halep must look forward after Roland Garros defeat!

Simona Halep had her best fortnight of tennis for three years. For the second time in her career the Romanian fought to a Roland Garros final but fell short despite being in a greater position this time around leading by a set and a break but must move on quickly as she can’t afford to look back.

Halep is a player who plays with her a heart on her sleeve which I like to see from a player to show that emotion but it can also become a bad thing as you can quickly become your own worst enemy.

Earlier on in the year Halep around Australia and Indian Wells Halep wasn’t playing well and you could see tensions from he ron court and showed a lot of emotion to her coach but before Madrid she spoke about how it’s behind her and how she is focusing more on court and in Madrid when she won the title she looked sharp.

Unfortunately in Rome it fell short for her after a bad ankle roll and for the first few matches at Roland Garros I was watching and thinking to myself don’t get carried away as she is carrying this injury but throughout the whole fortnight she was professional and composed and even in defeat she stood there like a champion and one day her day will come.

Many players on the tour have made finals and won titles but struggled to find that motivation and confidence and there has been a struggle but she can do it and with the tour so open at the moment opportunity will knock again soon but you cannot look backwards otherwise success may be hard to find.

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Next up for Halep will be Wimbledon, the Romanian doesn’t usually play a warm-up event and after a long few weeks on the clay the rest might do her some good as she looks for her first major title.

Go big and go home (with your first title)

Jelena Ostapenko was never at Roland Garros to make up the numbers. The Latvian was ranked at 47 in the world and 19 when the tournament began now she will be ranked as high as 12 and just turned 20 and what a way to celebrate than with your first career title which is just one of the four majors in the world so no big deal!

Jelena’s style of play is what helped propel her to an unthinkable title in which she hit 299 winners in 7 matches which is unheard of in tennis, Nadal hit 118 in his first 5 matches!

Every match Jelena arrived with a ‘go big or go home’ style of tennis and she did go big from the first to last match and went big, went home but with a Grand Slam title.

There was never any pressure on Ostapenko. With respect she never came into Roland Garros with much expectation on her which brings pressure and as the tournament went on and on she continued to play more freely seeing off Puig, Stosur, Wozniacki, Bacsinzky and Halep on her way to winning the title.

She wasn’t phased by anything and the crowd got behind her and her explosive style of tennis as she went from strength to strength with no fear and this could be the start of something major.

I still don’t feel there will be too much pressure on her which we have seen in the past from young players in her position. She seems to be a young lady with her feet on the ground coached by her mother and former top 20 player Anabel Medina the future does look good for the Latvian who no matter was thrown at her these last couple of weeks in Paris played with a smile on her face!

Well done Jelena!

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Photo credit – Getty Images 

3-6 1-5, Simona Survives!

In her post match interview Simona Halep said she didn’t know she was match point down in the second set tie-break. The Romanian turned her quarter final around in incredible style and deserves a lot of credit for the grit she showed from 3-6 1-5 down in the match to turn it around at the last moment possible winning 12 of the next 13 games to keep her dream of winning her first major alive.

At the same time I do feel for Svitolina who’s game capitulated and it looks like a case of seeing the finish line before it was reached.

The whole tournament so far has shown such a big step in Halep’s mental preparation, guts and determination on the court which she has lacked for a while and even admitted herself a short break from her coach made her realise she needs to be more controlled and composed on the court and what I enjoy seeing come the end of a match is that fist pump from Halep. She doesn’t overreact to winning but she knows it’s a job gone and she is two wins away from her greatest completed job!

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Forehand firing as Halep crushes Cepelova in Paris

After picking up an injury just over a week ago in Rome participation at Roland Garros was in the balance and after being drawn against Jana Cepelova in round one who defeated Halep at Wimbledon a couple of years ago it looked like being a difficult start for the Romanian but it was anything but!

With a few top players missing and early defeats for Konta and Kerber the draw has opened up and the opportunity is there for a first time winner with Halep and Svitolina top of that list.

Halep’s game has come together at the right time especially after a difficult period at Indian Wells but since she has stepped onto the clay court she has played 15 matches on the clay winning 13 and picking up her second title in a row at Madrid.

It was nice to see Halep in full flow yesterday evening she was strong coming forward, her movement at the back of the court and coming forward was exceptional, the backhand gave her safe but effective options but the main point was the forehand.

A lot of Halep’s game does come down to the forehand and it was in full flow against Cepelova and if she can keep it up we are set for an exciting fortnight in Paris.

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This still just shows the forehand in full flow from Halep, the feet are off the ground putting all the power she has behind it but the strike on the ball and the contact she gets with the bottom third of the racket flattens the ball out sending the winner cross-court as she closed out the first set.

Contender?

Most definitely!