WTA Finals: Simona Halep begins campaign on a winning note by beating Caroline Garcia in straight sets
In her opening round-robin match, Halep halted Garcia's 11-match winning streak with a 6-4, 6-2 masterclass in 88 minutes at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Singapore: Simona Halep says she is relishing being the World No 1 after delivering an ominous warning to her rivals at the WTA Finals with a crushing, straight-sets victory over the in-form Caroline Garcia on Monday.
In her opening round robin match at the eight-player season finale, Halep halted Garcia's 11-match winning streak with a 6-4, 6-2 masterclass in 88 minutes at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
It was sweet revenge for the recently crowned World No 1 from Romania, who lost to France's Garcia in this month's China Open final in Beijing.
Halep, who received the top billing a day before the final in Beijing, said she enjoyed winning her first match as the world number one. "I feel happy. I feel great winning the first match in the first tournament coming in as number one," she told reporters after the match.
"It’s a nice thing that I can be number one at the end of the year but it is not the most important thing in this moment for me. I just want to win the matches that I’m playing here."
Garcia, the World No 8, had secured the last spot for Singapore after winning back-to-back titles in Wuhan and Beijing, but she was thoroughly outclassed in her debut WTA Finals match.
"I’m disappointed about the loss," Garcia said. "It was not the way I wanted but it’s not over yet."
In a match-up of contrasting styles and sizes – with the 1.77m (5ft 10ins) Frenchwoman holding a 9cm height advantage – Garcia attempted to dictate through her powerful ground strokes.
Garcia also mixed up her game with an array of deft drop shots and volleying to have Halep on the back foot early on.
But Halep's famed defensive prowess and precision hitting soon told and she broke to love in the fifth game. Even though she was subsequently broken back, Halep gained in confidence and eventually claimed the decisive break in the ninth game when a rattled Garcia double-faulted.
Halep clinched the opening set through a superb backhand winner down the line. She continued to press home the advantage with an early break in the second set and thwarted Garcia's bid for a bold comeback.
Down three break points in the fourth game, Halep brilliantly reeled off five straight points to restore her initiative and she breezed through the second set in 38 minutes.
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