Maria Sharapova last played in the Wimbledon and missed tennis action since then because of injuries. The long absence, during which she skipped the US Open and other WTA events, brought her world ranking down to no.4. But in the BNP Paribas WTA finals currently underway at Singapore, the Russian has looked impeccable so far. With Serena Williams giving the year-end finals a miss, Sharapova has a great chance of winning the final race at Singapore. She is in the Red Group with world no.2 Simona Halep of Romania, US Open champion and world no.8 Italian Flavia Pennetta and Polish world no.6 Agnieszka Radwanska. The White Group has world no.3 Garbine Muguruza of Spain, no.5 Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, no.7 Angelique Kerber of Germany and no.9 Lucie Safarova also from Czech Republic. On Tuesday, Sharapova fought hard with Halep before winning her second match.
World no.4 Maria Sharapova had a great start in the BNP Paribas WTA finals, when she took on Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska on Sunday. The Russian lost the first set after leading 4-3 at one stage. But she bounced back by taking the second and third to score a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over her Polish rival despite committing 11 double faults in the match. On Tuesday, Sharapova defeated world no.2 Romanian Simona Halep 6-4, 6-4 but the score-line doesn’t tell the true story of a rather close match. For the first 45 minutes, the blockbuster clash remained even as no player wanted to yield an inch. Sharapova and Halep traded breaks until the score reached 4-4. The world no.4 then pounced like a cat and reeled off 7 out of the next 8 games to lead 6-4, 5-1. But Sharapova apparently ran out of steam after that and allowed Halep to take three games on trot as the score reached 6-4, 5-4. While Halep served to draw the scores level in the second set, Sharapova broke again to take the match 6-4, 6-4. No one has yet qualified for the semifinals in the Red Group and the next matches on Thursday will be the key, when Sharapova plays Flavia Pennetta and Halep will take on Agnieszka Radwanska.
In Wednesday’s White Group match, rising star Garbine Muguruza of Spain inched one step closer to the semifinals with a straight sets 6-4, 6-4 victory over Germany’s Angelique Kerber. Muguraza had already won her opening match against Lucie Safarova two days ago and the 2-0 lead gives her a great chance for the knock-out stage of the tournament. It was Muguruza’s fourth victory against Kerber after Roland Garros, Wimbledon and Wuhan. In the other match between two Czechs and the Fed-Cup teammates, Petra Kvitova edged out Lucie Safarova 7-5, 7-5 in a hard-fought encounter. In White Group’s next matches, Muguruza takes on Petra Kvitova while Kerber will lock horns with Lucie Safarova.
In the doubles draw, top-seeded Indo-Swiss pair of Sania Mirza/Martina Hingis won their first match on October 26, when they defeated the American duo of Raquel Kops-Jones/Abigail Spears 6-4, 6-2. Sania/Hingis took 2-0 lead in the tournament on Wednesday after another victory, when they overpowered the Czech team of Andrea Hlavackova/Lucie Hradecka 6-3, 6-4. The Indo-Swiss team has thus recorded their 19-match unbeaten streak on the WTA circuit. The pair began playing together in March 2015 and in less than 8 months, they have already won 8 WTA titles, including two Grand Slam crown at Wimbledon and US Open. With just one more match remaining against Hungary’s Timea Babos and Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic, the top seeds are closer to the semifinal berth than anyone else in the Red Group.