SINGAPORE // Simona Halep laid down the gauntlet at the WTA Finals on Sunday, demolishing rising American Madison Keys 6-2, 6-4 in the opening match of the US$7 million (Dh26m) end-of-season event.
A finalist two years ago, the Romanian looked in great form on her return to Singapore’s purple indoor court, needing just 68 minutes to win her round-robin match against Keys in straight sets.
The big-hitting Keys struggled to find her rhythm against Halep, who is one of the most tenacious counterpunchers in the game, committing 18 unforced errors and losing 13 points in a row to concede the opening set after just 27 minutes.
Halep broke Keys for a third time to grab the early advantage in the second set, but a sloppy service game allowed the American to draw level at 4-4.
However, Halep broke straight back and served out the match to go straight to the top of the Red Group standings.
World No 1 Angelique Kerber was scheduled to play Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova in the day’s other Red Group match with the two players from the pool phase advancing to next weekend’s semi-finals in the elite eight-player tournament.
The four players in the White Group, Agnieszka Radwanska, Karolina Pliskova, Garbine Muguruza and last-minute qualifier Svetlana Kutznetsova, all play their opening matches on Monday.
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