For the first time in 2014, Serena Williams and Simona Halep will cross paths on the WTA tour. This time, their encounter is a crucial one – a match that will likely cement the victor a spot in the semi-final stage of the event. Serena leads Halep 3-0 in the head-to-head series, with two wins in 2013.
World No. 1 Serena Williams kicked off the action at the WTA Finals on Monday afternoon with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over a very game Ana Ivanovic. Williams fired 12 aces, won 71% of her first service points and converted on 4 of 5 break point opportunities.
“I didn’t have any fear at all,” Williams said after dispatching Ana Ivanovic, 6-4, 6-4, in the opening WTA Finals match. “I really don’t feel like I have anything to lose at this point.”
After only managing four matches post-US Open, Williams is simply happy to be back on court and healthy.
“I felt the knee a little bit, but compared to what it was in Beijing, it feels so much better. I’m getting better, which is great. Just have to keep doing my program so by end of the week, hopefully – if I’m here – I’ll still be getting better.”
The second contest of the day featured a rematch of the Wimbledon semi-final between Simona Halep and Eugenie Bouchard, both of whom were making their debuts at the year-end championships. Although many anticipated an entertaining clash, it was Halep who dominated the affair from the get-go.
The Romanian managed 83% of her first service points and saved both the break points she faced to close out the match 6-2, 6-3 in 68 minutes.
“I felt prepared to start the match, to start the tournament, and I had confidence that I can play my style and my game again,” Halep said. “I found the way to be again aggressive and to fight for every point.”
This marks the fourth time that Williams and Halep will meet on the professional tour, and the first time at the prestigious year-end championships. It is safe to say that Williams has never faced this particular version of Halep, as the Romanian has developed herself into one of the most dangerous competitors on the tour in 2014. While the American will be the odds-on favourite to win the match, Halep be more of a threat than many assume.
Prediction: Serena Williams in Three Sets