SINGAPORE: Newly crowned world number one Angelique Kerber all but booked her place in the knockout stage of the WTA Finals after a clinical 6-4 6-2 win over Romania’s Simona Halep on Tuesday.
Kerber, looking sharper and more focussed than she was in her opening round-robin victory over Dominika Cibulkova, posted a surprisingly lop-sided victory over the combative Halep, who had looked in ominous touch during her opening match win over Madison Keys.
A finalist at the end-of-season championship two years ago, Halep was brimming with confidence ahead of her clash with Kerber but found the lefthander too good on Singapore’s slow indoor hardcourts.
Kerber, electing to receive first, broke Halep’s opening service game and despite later dropping her serve and falling 4-3 behind, the German reeled off the last three games in a row to take the opening set after just 43 minutes.
Kerber was even more dominant in the second set as Halep, one of the best returners in the game, struggled to impose her own game on the in-form German, who reached the top of the world rankings when she won the US Open last month.
Two service breaks gave Kerber the advantage she needed and although Halep saved the first two break points she faced with two spectacular winners, it was too little too late as Kerber wrapped up the win.
Cibulkova plays Keys in Tuesday’s other Red Group match. If she wins Kerber will be assured of topping the group ahead of her final match with Keys on Thursday.