World No. 2 Halep downs Pennetta 6-0, 6-3
World No. 2 imperious as she dismisses US Open champion
Smart, aggressive, well-prepared, dominating.
Those were words women's world No. 2 Simona Halep used to describe her 6-0, 6-3 opening win over Italy's Flavia Pennetta in the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global at the Indoor Stadium yesterday.
But there was one word that the Romanian kept coming back to - solid.
"I feel good here, I feel the court, I feel the game, I have great memories from last year, so I came with confidence," said the top-seeded 24-year-old after her 70-minute match.
"I think I played very solid today."
US Open champion Pennetta, 33, had a superior 4-1 head-to-head record against Halep going into the clash, which included a 6-1, 6-3 victory in the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows en route to her shock Grand Slam win last month.
When asked to recount that loss yesterday, Halep scrunched up her face and, almost pleadingly, asked: "You want to speak about that again? I was a little tired and nervous for that match. It was my first time in the semi-finals of the US Open.
"I beat Flavia before in Miami and I knew that she can play good tennis.
"I was very tired after my match against (Victoria) Azarenka, and then I was without energy when I played with Flavia."
Having been in Singapore the past week to prepare, Halep, who lost in the final here last year to world No. 1 Serena Williams, was sharp and confident, looking every bit the favourite as she opened the all-star Red Group in dominant fashion.
She said: "I had downs in the middle of the year, but I can say that it helped me because now I'm more relaxed. I'm more focused for what I have to do, not about the result."
She has improved technically, tactically and, more importantly, psychologically, under coach Darren Cahill.
"Darren helped me to believe in myself," said Halep. "He's very positive, and that's why now I believe more in myself."
Halep's vanquished opponent had nothing but praise for her.
Pennetta said: "I think her play was really consistent, she was playing really well today. Maybe I had not too much energy."
Halep warned that she can still get better.
"The first round is always the most important because it's difficult to start a tournament," she said. "I think I did a great job. I can say that I didn't play my best today, but I played good tennis. I feel I can play my best tennis here."
I have confidence and I just want to stay focused, because after tomorrow I will have a tough match. I expect every match to be difficult, so I just want to stay focused and to believe that I have my chance
— Simona Halep