WTA Finals RR: (3) Maria Sharapova vs (7) Flavia Pennetta
Maria Sharapova will continue her quest for a 2nd WTA Finals title on Thursday when she comes up against Flavia Pennetta in the final match from the red group. Interestingly enough, Flavia Pennetta is the only player in Singapore that has a positive head-to-head record over Maria.
Maria currently sits on top of the red group and will finish on top with a victory over Pennetta. It is still possible for Maria to miss out on the semi-finals, if she is to lose to Flavia in straight sets and Simona defeats Radwanska in straight sets. Pennetta needs to win in straight sets to secure her spot in the semi-finals, if she wins in 3 sets she will be relying on Radwanska to defeat Halep.
Maria Sharapova has been the stand out performer so far in Singapore, recording back-to-back victories against the odds. Maria started the week by claiming her first victory since Wimbledon, a 4-6 6-3 6-4 win over Agnieszka Radwanska. Sharapova backed up that performance with an equally impressive 6-4 6-4 win over Simona Halep, maintaining her perfect record over the Romanian. Perhaps Maria’s biggest test will come on Thursday when she comes up against an opponent she has lost to 3 times in a row.
Flavia Pennetta rebounded superbly from her convincing straight loss to Simona Halep on Sunday with an extremely impressive 7-6 6-4 victory over Agnieszka Radwanska. Pennetta played her best match since New York, her backhand was on fire and her serve was well above its usual standard. Pennetta ended the match with 37 winners to just 23 unforced errors. Flavia will be confident heading into her match with Sharapova given her recent record over the Russian however she is also bound to be nervous considering this may well be the last match of her career.
Flavia Pennetta holds a 3-2 head-to-head record over Sharapova, the Italian has the won the 3 most recent encounters between the pair. Their only recent match was earlier this year at Indian Wells, Pennetta came from a set down to claim a 3-6 6-3 6-2 victory.
This is a potentially tough match to call, especially considering Sharapova will know before the match that she doesn’t need to win in order to qualify for the semi-finals. Sharapova will secure her spot in the semi-finals by winning a set against Pennetta. Despite this, I think Sharapova will be motivated enough to get the job done here, Maria has been at her fierce best this week and will not want to flirt with her form. Furthermore Maria will not want to slump to a 4th consecutive loss to Flavia. Maria should be too powerful for an emotional Pennetta.