Williams avenged her "embarrassing" loss to Halep in the group
stage of the season-ending tournament with a ruthless display,
overpowering her pint-sized opponent at every opportunity.
Halep shocked Williams 6-0 6-2 in the group stage of the elite event
but was unable to repeat that performance as the American reminded
everyone why she is the number one player in the world.
"I made so many errors in our last game. I knew for a fact I
couldn't make that many errors," Williams said.
"I had to play more Serena style tennis and just do what I do best:
enforce myself. That's what I was trying to do."
For Williams, it was her third successive win in the WTA Finals,
second only in prestige to the four grand slams, and her fifth
overall, tied for second with Steffi Graf.
Only Martina Navratilova, with eight titles, has won more, but with
Williams showing no signs of slowing down at the age of 33, it is
not inconceivable the American could overhaul her.
The odds were stacked against Williams winning in Singapore after
she pulled out of two events in China because of a knee injury then
lost to Halep in the group stages.
But, as she has shown time and time again throughout her illustrious
career, Williams has a knack for raising her game when it matters,
as Halep learnt the hard way at Singapore's National Indoor Stadium.
"It was an amazing week for me so I cannot be sad that I lost," said
Halep. "Congratulations to Serena - you are the best."
Just as she did in their previous encounter, Halep made a confident
start, holding her first service game to love and putting Williams
under early pressure.
She broke Williams' second service game to lead 2-1 but failed to
consolidate her early advantage as the American responded by taking
her game up a notch.
Williams thumped two forehands past Halep to set up her first break
point then leveled the scores at 2-2 when the Romanian dumped a
forehand into the net.
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Staring down Halep with each point she won, a fired-up Williams
quickly began to assert her authority, and broke her opponent again
to lead 4-2 when Halep hit a backhand long.
"I expected a tough match. I knew that she will play better. And
yeah, it happened," said Halep, who ends the year ranked third in
A lapse in concentration cost Williams the next game as successive
double-faults allowed Halep to break back but those mistakes only
spurred her on and she proceeded to reel off the final eight games
in a row.
She blasted successive aces, the first at 161 km/h then the next at
194 km/h, to clinch the opening set then showed no mercy in the
second, out muscling her opponent with her powerful serves, ground
strokes and overhead smashes.
Halep won only seven points in the entire second set, that lasted
just 25 minutes, before Williams sealed her win with her 26th winner
and raised her arms in triumph as she captured her 64th career title
and just over $2 million in prize money.
"I didn't expect to end the year on this note," said Williams, who
won her 18th grand slam singles title at the U.S. Open last month
but then injured her knee.
"It makes everything much more sweeter and satisfying, especially
for me. It wasn't my best year, but I'm just happy to have won one
more title this year.
"It was also good for me to lose that match," she added. "Because
now I know what to expect next year. I really know and I'm ready for
that next year."
(Editing by Martyn Herman)
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