Serena clinches WTA Finals title
Singapore, October 26
[dropcap]S[/dropcap]erena Williams beat Simona Halep 6-3, 6-0 on Sunday to win her third-successive title at the WTA Finals and her fifth overall. Halep easily beat Williams just four days earlier during the group stage of the tournament, but Williams turned that around with an aggressive game plan that unsettled the Romanian player.
Williams won 11 of the last 12 games in the match to join Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf as the only players to have won five titles in the season-ending championships.
The 33-year-old American pulled out of her previous two tournaments with illness and a knee injury, yet still claimed the $2 million first prize.
“I just started training, because I had such a bad knee in Beijing I didn’t know if I’d be able to play here, and now I have won the Billie-Jean King trophy — I am so excited,” Williams said.
The match was the most one-sided championship match in the WTA Finals since Kim Clijsters beat Amelie Mauresmo 6-2, 6-0 in 2003. “It was an amazing week so I can’t be too sad that I lost,” Halep said. “Congratulations to Serena, you are the best.”
Halep got the first break of the match in the third game and looked capable of repeating the surprise 6-0, 6-2 victory she recorded over Williams on Wednesday, but in the next game Williams broke back at her third opportunity and the course of the match was set.
Halep won only three points less than Williams in the opening set but clinched just seven points in the entire second set — including only two on return. The set was over in 25 minutes.
Halep’s serve, so effective throughout the tournament, let her down on the big stage, winning less than half her first-serve points while Williams won 77 per cent.
Williams changed her game plan from the group-stage contest, attacking Halep’s second serve with fierce ground strokes, and regularly rushing the net to cut the points short and prevent the Romanian playing her preferred style.
Halep tried in vain to change the momentum, even trying a drop shot from well behind the baseline, but her spirit and body language quickly deteriorated in the face of Williams’ relentless attack.
Williams had 25 winners against just five by her opponent.
Halep’s victory in the group stage ended Williams’ 16-game winning streak at the WTA Finals, but the American built her career win-loss record in the championships — for the top eight players — to 29 wins against just five losses. Williams also retained her No.1 ranking.
Sania Mirza-Cara Black win doubles title
Singapore, October 26
Indian ace Sania Mirza and her Zimbabwean partner Cara Black ended the season and their partnership on a remarkable high by clinching the season-ending finale with a comprehensive triumph in the summit clash in Singapore on Sunday.
Sania and Cara, making their debut at the year-end championship, prevailed 6-1 6-0 over Su-Wei Hseih of Chinese Taipei and Shuai Peng of China in a clash that lasted just about an hour.
In a completely lop-sided contest, third seeds Sania and Cara did not concede a single break point to their second-seeded rivals.
The Indo-Zimbabwean combination, which would be breaking up after this, broke the East Asians thrice in the opening set and were decisively better with their first serve. Sania and Cara were even more dominant in the second set, breaking Hseih and Peng thrice again to race away with the match and the title.
In their two previous matches, Black and Mirza negotiated dramatic finishes, saving match points in both.
“That’s tennis, it gives you another chance. You’ve got to fight and this just proves it, and today we won the tournament. It’s been an amazing ride, an amazing journey,” Sania said after the win Sania and Cara first teamed up at the end of 2013, winning their first two events together, in Tokyo and Beijing.
However, Cara, who has two-year-old son, recently announced that she would sit out the 2015 season to spend more time with her family.
“We started off with a bang and now we’re ending with a bang. We’ve had such an amazing year and had so much fun and built a great friendship, which is so special too. It’s sad that this is our last tournament, but it’s great to have these moments to share,” the Zimbabwean said. It’s Sania and Cara’s second win in a row over Hsieh and Peng, having lost to them thrice early in the season. Sania will pair with Chinese Taipei’s Su-Wei Hseih in the 2015 season.