By Ros Satar, in Singapore

  • Caroline Garcia [8] def. Caroline Wozniacki [6] 0-6 6-3 7-5
  • Elina Svitolina [4] def. Simona Halep 6-3 6-4
SINGAPORE – The semi-finals are set! In the final twist, Simona Halep crumbled in her last match to send Caroline Garcia to the top of the group.

 

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Caroline Garcia [8] def. Caroline Wozniacki [6] 0-6 6-3 7-5

Caroline Garcia continued the pattern of play with the debutants at this year’s WTA Finals finishing with a flourish. After losing to World No. 1 Simona Halep in the opening round, she displayed amazing strength of character to come back from the brink twice in a row beating the seemingly indestructible Caroline Wozniacki.

Garcia has a habit of not sticking to the script. She actually started well against Halep, and pushed her in the early exchanges before Halep made her breakthrough and ran through the rest of the match. But the fortunes have turned. Garcia has just become stronger and more determined while all else around have struggled to maintain their grip.

Already out of the door are French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko who finished with a win, and Garbiñe Muguruza who lost a plain old fashioned shoot out with Venus Williams.

“I mean, I’m happy that when the battle is on I’m fighting and I find a way to come back. If I can win in two sets, I mean, I’m sure I would be happy about it, and my team will be even more,” laughed Garcia as she came into press.

It has been a tough year for the Frenchwoman – the season started with an early withdrawal from Sydney with a back injury, and she suffered some slings and arrows from former doubles partner Kristina Mladenovic, who had been unhappy at how their doubles partnership had ended.

But the decision to contrite on her singles career has paid off – her form at the end of a gruelling year saw her win Wuhan and Beijing back to back and sliding into the final berth.

 

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Elina Svitolina [4] def. Simona Halep 6-3 6-4

The round-robin format throws up the weirdest of quirks – a desolate Elina Svitolina looked as though she would barely find the court, much less record a win after getting the Garcia treatment.

All Halep had to do was win to keep herself in the shout, but once more looked inhibited and beset with nerves, commenting to Darren Cahill on an on-court coaching break: “What am I playing here?


For all that though, and despite missing the top step on the way to the desk in her final press conferernce, she was upbeat.

“It’s a good feeling that it’s over (smiling) because it’s been like a marathon the last months. Many things happening and also a bit of pressure.

“I think I played better than Wozniacki’s match, and this was my goal, actually. Of course I did everything I could and I wanted to win it, but just didn’t happen.

“She played really well, and she deserved to win. I’m not sad. Of course I’m upset that I lost, but it’s been a great year and I’m happy to go to the holiday now.”

Simona Halep | WTA Finals 2017, Singapore

Simona Halep | WTA Finals 2017, Singapore (c) Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

She joked: “I just talked to my coach before the match that this system, I don’t like. You stay, like, in the stress all week. Even if you lose, of course, you have another chance, but I just want to be, like, you lose, you go home. You know something (smiling), yes or no.

“But it’s good for some players that are losing the first match. They have another chance. So I always win the first one and then I lose. So is not a good thing for me. But maybe I can improve the next years.”

 

For Svitolina – her devastation at the loss just two days ago helped her regroup to do just keep things simple

“I was just trying to, as I said, you know, play for one point at a time and play for the fans that were there, you know. As we can see, this tournament is tricky tournament, because, you know, you can lose the match and then come back and play in semi-finals.”

When Garcia was asked how she night repay Svitolina for the win that put her at the top of the group, she joked: “I guess she probably a little bit pissed about me for the last match, so I don’t know (smiling). But, you know, I mean, I can always ask her out for a drink or something.”

Give their battles in the lead up to the WTA Finals, Garcia may well have to pony up something a little more extravagant that a quick beer.

Svitolina joked: “Yeah, I think I’m expecting more than a drink. Sorry (smiling). Because we also played in Beijing, and she worked really hard for it, but still, you know, I’m waiting (smiling).”

Halep is now on waiting duty – she will clinch the year-end No. 1 spot if Karolina Pliskova fails to win the title.

The semi-finals are Pliskova v Wozniacki not before 4pm (9am BST) and Williams v Garcioa not before 7:30pm (12:30pm BST).

Main Image: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

 

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