WTA Finals Singapore 2017 Day 4 Preview: Simona Halep vs Caroline Wozniacki

After winning their first round robin matches, Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki will compete on Wednesday for the top spot in the WTA Finals Red Group. I will preview this blockbuster match in this most so read on…

[1] Simona Halep (No.1) vs [6] Caroline Wozniacki (No.6)

Halep’s route to this stage

RR1: d. [8] Caroline Garcia, 6-4 6-1

Wozniacki’s route to this stage

RR1: d. [4] Elina Svitolina, 6-2 6-0

Simona Halep’s WTA Finals campaign started off with an impressive and comprehensive 6-4 6-1 victory over Caroline Garcia. Although coming off a loss in the final in Beijing (to Garcia), it was a super impressive run at the Chinese continent from the Romanian as her improved serve and willingness to go down the lines helped her to reach the final. It also meant she finally reached the No.1 ranking, a milestone she had lost the opportunity so many times this season. Some would think that reaching No.1 would put extra pressure on her (Angie Kerber springs to mind) but it seems that it has helped relieve pressure from Simona instead. Bringing the form from Beijing to Singapore, Halep turned the tables against Garcia in an impressive display of serving, winning 71% of second serve points! Taking risks throughout the match also helped Halep a ton – at 5-4 40-40 on a second serve, Halep chose the slider out wide serve (which went in) – a move I do not think the Romanian would have hit a few years ago. On set point no.3, Halep hit a backhand down the line, which went in and gave her the set – another risky move I don’t think she would have done before. A great performance from Simona overall and she is showing that she is the No.1 player in the world right now.

If Halep’s performance was impressive, Caroline Wozniacki’s win against Elina Svitolina had no words to describe. As we all know, Wozniacki has been working to become more aggressive throughout the years of her career and her improvement on the serve and forehand has been very evident in 2017. However, the victory over Svitolina was the epitome of them all. Mixing up the pace as she usually does very well, from 2-2 onwards, Wozniacki won the last 10 games with her blistering backhand and won 76% of first serve points. Amazingly in the second set, Wozniacki won 26 out of 35 points whilst taking 3 out of 3 break point opportunites. In the end she hit 16 winners to just four unforced errors, an amazing ratio! It was just magnificent from the Dane – her backhand down the line and the serve were working great and she is definitely a contender for the title if she continues her ways.

Head to head: Wozniacki leads the head to head 3-2. On hard courts, Halep leads the head to head 2-1, including their last two encounters on the surface but that was back in 2015. The two met only once in 2017, where Wozniacki won 5-7 6-4 6-1 on the grass of Eastbourne.

Stat: Both players were extremely clutch on winning break points in their matches – Halep capitalized on 4/5 opportunities while Wozniacki was at 5/5. Both players were equally impressive on their serves too – Halep won a total of 65% of points on serve (71% on second serve as mentioned above) and Wozniacki 72%.

Wozniacki’s return stats were even better though – she won 92% of second serve return points, and 62% overall on return points.

Thoughts: Halep has looked super comfortable with the number ‘one’ beside her name, and is probably really comfortable on these Singapore courts – after all, she has played the WTA Finals in Singapore here for each of the four years. I think Wozniacki is equally comfortable too – the TV commentator, Alicia Molik, mentioned that the low bounce of the courts allows Wozniacki to hit her backhand at the exact height she wants. The slow conditions of this court helps Wozniacki to retrieve many balls, but these characteristics suit Halep too, who plays a similar ball to the Dane.

I think this is going to be a cracking contest – if the two players match their amazing tennis from their first matches, this is sure to be an epic – hopefully! After watching Wozniacki’s match against Svitolina, I’m heading with her a little more – I think Wozniacki’s variety and willingness to mix up the play could be a factor here.

Please follow my Singapore predictions here and my Twitter account here 🙂

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