(October 26, 2014) Serena Williams avenged a round-robin stage loss to Simona Halep and gave the Romanian a dose of her own medicine, as the American claimed her third straight WTA Finals championship on Sunday routing the fourth seed 6-3, 6-0.
Just four days ago Halep demolished Williams during the group stage 6-0, 6-2. The 33-year-old veteran turned the tables on her 23-year-old opponent on Sunday, winning 11 of the last 12 games of the match.
For Williams, it’s her fifth year-end championship, which puts her in a tie for second all-time with Steffi Graf, behind Martina’s Navratilova with eight. In winning her 64th career title, Williams is now just three behind Billie Jean King for the seventh-most of the Open Era. For the fourth time in her career Williams has won at least seven titles during a season.
“I just started training again last week because I had such a bad knee in Beijing,” said the 18-time major winner. “I can’t believe I even made it to Singapore, and now I have the Billie Jean King Trophy, so I’m just really excited.”
Halep admitted to being tense. “I was nervous before the match that I had to play this big final,” she said. “I couldn’t manage very well the situation.”
“I was a little bit nervous. I was tired a little bit and I couldn’t make the step into the court and to, you know, open the court to play more aggressive.”
“I knew that she would be more motivated during this match because we played a few days ago and I won.”
Williams played a relentless attacking game on Sunday, different from her Thursday encounter with Halep.
“I had to play more Serena‑style tennis and just do what I do best: enforce myself,” said the world No. 1 who hit 25 winners on the day. “That’s what I was trying to do.”
“I knew she will play better this match because she saw how I play, she saw what she has to do during the match,” Halep said.
“So she did really well today.”
“I gave everything today, and, you know, that was my level today,” Halep said. “Wasn’t my best day, but I’m still happy and I’m still enjoying this moment because it’s a good moment for me.”
“She was more motivated and more focused maybe this match, and she tried to hit the balls very strong.
“Like I said before, every day is a new day, it’s different day. So we saw today that was different day.”
The twist and turns of the situation of the group stage that let Williams qualify for the semifinals in the first place, was Halep taking a set off Ana Ivanovic in her final round-robin match. Had Halep not won a set off of the Serb, Williams would not have reached the semifinals.
“No, I have no regrets, because I did my job on court against Ivanovic,” Halep. “I tried to win the match. I couldn’t, but I never thought that I have to lose in two sets against Ivanovic.
“That was the chance. She deserves to win the title. She’s much better. So, yeah, it’s okay. I have no regrets.”
Williams said she would have done the same thing if she were in Halep’s situation.
“We play and give our all for everything,” Williams said.
“She (Halep) definitely gives her all, so I don’t think that went through her mind at all. If anything, she would’ve won three matches would’ve had a chance to go for more points, more money. It’s a much better incentive to try your best.”
For Halep, it’s been a career year for the Romanian now ranked No. 3 for 2014. She reached No. 2 in the world and was a finalist at the French Open – A big improvement from her No. 64 ranking less than two years ago.
“I improved a lot this year, this period, so I’m happy with my game,” Halep said.
“I can say that my dream is to win a Grand Slam, but I don’t know if I can next year.
“I want just to be focused for every tournament, to take very important ‑‑ every tournament to be very important for me.
“I want to improve more in my game, and then we will see what is going to happen. I want to remain in top 10 next year.”
Williams talked about her rollercoaster ride of a year in 2014.
“It’s been a really difficult year for me,” Williams admitted. “I don’t think I’ve had such an up and down year. I started out well with Brisbane; then didn’t do well in Australia; then I did well again in Miami.
“It was really up and down. I ended the year well. I had a couple injuries in the beginning of Asia, but I’m glad I came and I was able to end well. So I think that was important. How you start is how you finish, right?”
Williams took home a check for two million dollars and will have an orchid named after her for victory this week.