SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Simona Halep knew her first match as world number one would not be easy, so the Romanian was delighted to gain revenge over the last player to beat her with a 6-4 6-2 victory over Caroline Garcia in their WTA Finals opener on Monday.
Garcia became the last qualifier for Singapore with back-to-back titles in China, including victory over Halep in a Beijing final on Oct. 8, a day after the Romanian had secured a triumph that guaranteed her top spot in the rankings.
Halep stressed she was keen to learn from both that defeat and a win over the Frenchwoman she enjoyed in Canada two months ago ahead of the showdown in Singapore as the pair opened Red Group play with a high-class baseline tussle.
“She’s very difficult to play against and I knew how the match was going to be because we played two weeks ago,” Halep told reporters.
“But also I had in mind the match from Toronto when I won against her, and today I think I played similar to that match,” she added of the Canadian Open quarter-final that she also won 6-4 6-2.
“I just felt that in the beginning she’s very consistent and very strong, but then in the second set, I started to feel that I dominated the match and I got more confidence.”
Halep is not armed with the most powerful of serves so her strongest assets remain movement around the court and retrieving abilities, skills she utilised to full effect in the 88-minute triumph over Garcia.
“My footwork is really important and today I was really strong on the legs,” the 26-year-old added.
“I stayed very low because she hits it pretty flat, and the ball here on this court doesn’t jump too much. So I had to stay low. And also, I was running very well.
“I work more on this when I’m home but I don’t exaggerate. I just have it naturally but the most important thing is to be fresh before any tournament.”
Halep will take on Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, who opened with a 6-2 6-0 win over Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, in her next round-robin match on Wednesday. Garcia will play Svitolina the same day.
Editing by Ed Osmond