Simona Halep has produced one of the biggest upsets of the year, recording a 6-0 6-2 victory over the world number 1 and two time defending champion Serena Williams at the WTA Finals in Singapore. The manner in which Serena lost was what makes this result so surprising; Serena very rarely loses a match with such little resistance.
The victory was Simona’s first ever win over a top three opponent and broke Serena’s 16 match winning streak at the WTA Finals. It was also the first time in 16.5 years that Serena Williams has managed to win just 2 games in an entire match in which she has not retired in.
Serena Williams was a shadow of her usual self in the opening set. Serena looked slow around the court and her shots had very little penetration, often slumping into the net. Serena ended up hitting 18 unforced errors compared to just 4 winners in what was one of her worst sets of the year. Simona didn't do anything special, she just did what she had to do, hitting 3 winners and just 1 unforced error.
Serena became increasingly frustrated with herself in the opening set, especially with her inability to get a first serve into play. At one point, late in the set Serena howled expletives at herself, which were picked up by the on court mics.
The second set began in a similar fashion, with Serena hitting four unforced errors to hand the early break to Simona. Serena finally got on the scoreboard in the 9th game of the match, holding serve to keep within striking distance. Serena began to raise her level and looked to intimidate Simona with loud cries of come on, directed straight at the Romanian.
However Simona was not to be denied, refusing to get intimidated by a fired up Serena Williams. The Romanian was forced to save a break in every single one of her service games in the second set, remaining impressively cool under severe pressure. Simona fell 15-40 behind when serving for the match at 2-5 but didn't panic and continued to look to be aggressive. Her composure was rewarded as she successfully saved two break points before holding serve to complete the biggest victory of her career.
There is no doubt that Serena was not at her best, however some credit has to go to Simona, especially in the second set where she played incredibly well when Serena came back hard at her.
This result means Simona is all but assured of a place in the semi-finals whilst Serena Williams will have to beat Eugenie Bouchard on Thursday if she is to keep her title defence hopes alive.