By Ros Satar, in Singapore
- Simona Halep  v Caroline Wozniacki 
- Elina Svitolina  v Caroline Garcia 
- Scenario Corner – who needs to do what?
SINGAPORE – The two winners of the Red Group – Simona Halep & Caroline Wozniacki will battle to head the group, while Elina Svitolina and Caroline Garcia scrap to keep their chances alive.
Simona Halep  v Caroline Wozniacki  | H2H: Wozniacki 3-2
The first round of results throws up an intriguing encounter between the new No. 1 Simona Halep, and the resurgent Caroline Wozniacki. While Halep came out and delivered a typically gritty performance against Caroline Garcia, she gave away six games to the high-flying Frenchwoman.
Meanwhile Wozniacki finally stopped the rot against Elina Svitolina, scoring her first win over the somewhat discombobulated Ukrainian, but the two games she allowed Svitolina puts her ahead on the board, as we all gear up for the headaches that are the advancement scenarios.
However there is still tennis to be played, and for Halep, the challenge is to snap a two-match losing streak to Wozniacki, although the last two hard court wins have gone the Romanian’s way.
With a slow court that helps those who can switch between attack and defence, it looks on paper that this is tailor-made for the Dane, who explained how the hard-court boards have been tricky for some of the debutants here.
She told reporters after her first round win: “I think this court rewards being able to go from offence to defence, defence to offence, and I think it rewards the player that has good hands, in particular. I think because this court you can’t just play offence or you can’t just play defence.
“Maybe you can win one match like that, but to play consistent on this court, you need to be able to run a lot of balls down and wait for your opportunity to really hit through the court. So I just tried to do that today.”
Of course that is what the Dane is known for, and it showed, leaving Svitolina ruing one of her worse days in the office for quite some time.
Halep may have come through in quite some style, running away with things in the second set against Garcia, but the Frenchwoman showed just how tricky she could be in a tense first set. Once Halep made her breakthrough, she took command of the match, but she needs to be able to rely ion her scrambling skills to drop back deep and defend like crazy, as well as her trademark attacking play.
The matches this week have all had the potential, based on head to heads to all go the distance but the top seeds have been on great form, Svitolina notwithstanding, and Halep seems to have had her happy side click into gear.
Prediction: Halep in three sets.
Elina Svitolina  v Caroline Garcia  | H2H; 1-1
It probably is no fun being part of the statistic where every debutant at Singapore this year has lost on this court, and not even gained a set, in the first round. So it is time for either Svitolina (still theoretically in the running to snatch the year-end No. 1) and Garcia – the only player that is not in contention for the battle for No. 1.
There is not much between them. Svitolina’s win over Garcia came two years ago, and it is fair to say that the Frenchwoman has come along in leaps and bounds in the last two years. Perhaps more so this year, after injury and some ups and downs off court have served to make her a stronger and far more resilient player.
Her doubles skill makes her a worthy threat on the court, to go along with great athleticism and she can also defend and attack.
Given how Svitolina struggled against Wozniacki, who can also switch on both modes, this could be an uphill task against a player who is still really coasting after pulling off the Wuhan and Beijing double.
Prediction: Garcia in three sets
We have come to eye these with a mixture of marvel and dread – trying to work out the permutations for advancement to the knock-out stages.
- If Halep and Garcia win, Halep qualified as group winner, Svitolina is eliminated (Garcia and Wozniacki play for the No. 2 spot on Friday)
- If Halep wins in straight sets and Svitolina wins in three sets, Halep qualifies (position tbd)
- If Wozniacki and Svitolina win, Wozniacki qualifies as group winner, Garcia is eliminated (Svitolina and Halep play for the No. 2 spot)
- If Wozniacki wins in straight sets and Garcia wins in three sets, Wozniacki qualifies (position tbd)
- Any other combination of results will mean qualification comes down to Friday’s matches.
Play will start at 7:30pm (12:30pm BST) with Halep v Wozniacki, followed by Svitolina v Garcia
Main Image: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
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