Sharapova prevails over top seed Halep
Russian shows her class to dispatch top seed
Maria Sharapova was in a light-hearted mood last night at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
She was joking with a member of her entourage as she walked into the roomful of media, and cut the conversation short when she heard someone coughing.
Giggling, she asked: "Are you okay, sir?"
The Russian had every reason to smile. She had just floored top seed Simona Halep 6-4, 6-4 to win her second successive match in the Red Group at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
But Sharapova was not about to talk about a second WTA Finals triumph, after her win on her debut in 2004.
Not yet, at least.
Said the 28-year-old: "Yeah, look, I've been in very different scenarios in the many times that I've played in the Championships, and I just think at this time... I'm really not focused on further down the line.
"If I do happen to get through, I get another match, that's great.
"That's been my goal from the first day here."
Sharapova has produced two impressive performances over the last four days.
On Sunday, she overcame Poland's Angieszka Radwanska 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in nearly three hours, in what was her first full match since Wimbledon in July.
Last night, she played a superb game to see off Romanian Halep, widely regarded as the favourite to hoist the Billie Jean King Trophy in the absence of injured world No. 1, Serena Williams.
Considering she was returning after injury, it was remarkable watching how Sharapova glided around the court last night.
The five-time world No. 1 had to contend with a spirited fightback by her opponent in the second set - Halep pulled back to 5-4 after being 5-1 down - but eventually closed out the match in just under 1 hour 40 minutes.
The win improved Sharapova's head-to-head record with Halep to 6-0, and was also the Russian's 20th victory at a WTA Finals.
Williams is the only other active player who has double-digit wins at the season-ending championships, with 26.
"As a player it's not about playing your best tennis in order to win, it's about finding a way to win," said Sharapova.
"I don't think that I played unbelievable tennis today.
"I still made errors, but cut down on my errors from the first match.
"I've always been a player that goes into a match and I don't seek perfection because I don't know if that's possible - at least I've never proven to myself that's possible."Sometimes, and most of the time, I feel happier when I get through a match and I didn't play my best tennis but found a way to win. That gives me a lot more confidence."