Simona Halep

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Williams, Wozniacki win at WTA Finals

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SINGAPORE — Venus Williams rallied at the WTA Finals to beat Caroline Garcia of France 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-3 Saturday and become the oldest women’s finalist at the year-end tournament.

In the other semifinal, Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark beat Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic 7-6 (9), 6-3 to set up a championship match against the American.

The 37-year-old Williams said “it’s hard to produce your best tennis at the end of the year because you’ve given so much.”

Williams holds a 7-0 winning career record over 27-year-old Wozniacki and has only lost one of 15 sets they’ve played.

Williams, who appeared in the Australian Open and Wimbledon finals this season, won the WTA Finals in 2008, and was also a finalist in 2009. Wozniacki was a year-end finalist in 2010.

Williams started the semifinal flat but kept improving against Garcia.

“One more match and I’m going to be playing against one of the best players in the tournament, another Caroline, and it’s going to be like deja vu,” Williams told the crowd.

“This tournament is one of the best, the top eight players in the world. Nothing is easy and to be standing in the winner’s circle, almost, is so amazing.”

Williams became more aggressive and Garcia, making her WTA Finals debut, started to make too many errors. In the end, Williams saved 12 of 13 break points in the match, and took advantage of four of nine break-point opportunities.

“I think in the second and third (sets) I was able to figure it out a little more,” Williams said.

Garcia called it a “very difficult” match.

“She’s hitting the ball very hard, very aggressive, huge serve, sometimes no rallies,” Garcia said.

Sixth-ranked Wozniacki leads the tour with most match wins on the season at 59-21 so far.

The third-ranked Pliskova’s loss is good news for Simona Halep, who will retain the No. 1 ranking through to next year.

Pliskova, playing in the year-end semifinals for the first time, needed to win the WTA Finals title to return to the No. 1 ranking for a second time this year.

Wozniacki improved her career record over Pliskova to 6-3, and is 3-2 in meetings this year.

Both players had six set points in the first set, but it was Wozniacki who capitalized on the sixth offering when Pliskova netted a backhand.

All six of Wozniacki’s set points were in the tiebreaker where she initially led 6-1. Pliskova held her first three set points on Wozniacki’s serve in the 10th game and three in the tiebreaker.

“All of a sudden it’s 6-2, 6-3, 6-4, and I said this isn’t fun anymore,” Wozniacki said. “I started thinking I should have lost this set already, so actually this is just a bonus. So I had a lot of talks with myself at that point.”

From 3-3 in the second set, Wozniacki won 12 of the last 15 points to take her place in the final.

Also Saturday, Martina Hingis played the final match of her career when she and partner Chan Yung-Jan lost their semifinal 6-4, 7-6 (5) to Timea Babos and Andrea Hlavackova.

Hingis and Chan won nine titles this season, including the U.S. Open trophy.

“I think it’s been an amazing journey and amazing career that I can be proud of,” the 37-year-old Hingis said. “It’s not really goodbye. I hope I’ll still be part of the game.”

Garcia advances to semifinals at WTA Finals

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SINGAPORE — Caroline Garcia advanced to the semifinals at the WTA Finals on Friday when top-ranked Simona Halep was beaten by Elina Svitolina.

Garcia defeated Caroline Wozniacki 0-6, 6-3, 7-5 in the early Red Group match, giving both 2-1 records. Wozniacki had already advanced, but Garcia had to wait. When Svitolina beat Halep 6-3, 6-4 later in the day, the top-ranked Romanian was eliminated and Garcia was through as the group winner.

In the semifinals, Garcia will play Venus Williams and Wozniacki will face Karolina Pliskova.

Garcia, playing at a career-high No. 8 ranking after winning back-to-back titles in Wuhan and Beijing, is the only one of the eight-players who didn’t have a chance to end the season with the top ranking.

“It was kind of weird, actually, to be here,” Garcia said. “I qualified last minute, two weeks before. I really wanted to keep improving, play every single match and get experience.

“That’s why I think I won these (last) two matches.”

Despite not reaching the semifinals, Halep will retain the No. 1 ranking unless Pliskova wins the title, which would make her the year-end No. 1.

“This system (round-robin) I don’t like,” Halep said. “You stay like stressed all week. If you lose, of course, you have another chance. I just want it to be if you lose you go home.”

Wozniacki beats Halep to improve to 2-0 at WTA Finals

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SINGAPORE — Caroline Wozniacki improved to 2-0 at the WTA Finals by beating top-ranked Simona Halep 6-0, 6-2 Wednesday.

The former No. 1 from Denmark, who made only seven unforced errors in the match, took advantage of the slow court, using the time to set up her shots and cover more ground.

In the first set, Halep won only 10 of the 35 points played, and Wozniacki never faced a break point.

“I played really well today and just went out and was aggressive,” Wozniacki said. “I wasn’t expecting to be leading by that much in the first set.”

The sixth-seeded Wozniacki saved the one break point she faced in the fifth game of the second set. She broke Halep’s serve twice in the second set.

Wozniacki improved her career record over Halep to 4-2. She won both of their meetings this season, although the other was a three-setter in the quarterfinals at Eastbourne.

Halep is now 1-1 in the round-robin tournament.