Simona Halep dominates Flavia Pennetta in WTA Finals opener

Top seed Simona Halep of Romania dominated US Open champion Flavia Pennetta of Italy 6-0, 6-3 on Sunday in the opening match of the WTA Finals in Singapore.


World number two Halep broke Pennetta three times in the first set, showing no signs of the left Achilles tendon injury that forced her to retire at the China Open three weeks ago. Halep, 24, who was runner-up to Serena Williams in Singapore last year, became top seed this year following Serena’s decision to withdraw from the season finale in order to rest.

“I have great memories from last year so I had confidence,” Halep said after the match. “I played solid today.”

Pennetta, the eighth seed and at 33 the oldest player competing at the WTA Finals, put up a stronger challenge in the second set but was broken in the eighth game. A long forehand by Pennetta sealed the match for Halep in the Red group, which also includes Russian world number three Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, who were scheduled to play later on Sunday.

Pennetta had a 4-1 head-to-head advantage going into the match but Halep boasted a WTA-leading 40 match wins on hardcourts this season. “She was playing really well today,” Pennetta said, complimenting Halep’s consistent serve. “Maybe I had not too much energy.”

The Italian announced plans to retire this season when she won her first Grand Slam in September at the US Open against compatriot Roberta Vinci after beating Halep.

Halep admitted on Sunday that she was nervous after her loss to Pennetta at the US Open but learned her lesson. “I have learned about how to manage the situation when you play semifinals, and I hope to have many more and to pass that bad feeling,” she said.