Halep says she's not the favourite in rematch with Williams
Simona Halep will face the world's top-ranked player Serena Williams in her first WTA Tour Finals final today.
Far from being the underdog, the 23-year-old Romanian finds herself in the unusual position of being touted as the favourite in many people's eyes in the finale of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
Just four days ago, the world No. 4 handed Williams her worst beating in 16 years, routing the 18-time Grand Slam champion 6-0, 6-2. There is no doubt the thrashing is still playing on the 33-year-old American's mind.
After booking her place in the final hours before Halep's own semi-final victory over Agnieszka Radwanska yesterday, Williams was asked about the prospect of a rematch.
She quipped: "My goal is to win three games and then go from there... So I'm starting out with low goals."
Also helping Halep's cause is a knee injury which put a serious question mark over Williams even making the trip to Singapore.
Earlier in the week, Williams admitted she was nowhere near 100 per cent and yesterday she joked that painkillers Tylenol and Advil were what was getting her through her matches.
Halep, however, is focused on her task.
After her comfortable 6-2, 6-2 win over Pole Radwanska in their semi-final last night, she insisted four-time WTA champion Williams' big-match experience gives her the edge.
No one can remember one player beating Williams twice in the space of five days and when asked if she felt she was favourite, Halep said: "Not really, because now... (Williams) knows how I play.
"She's older than me and knows how to manage this final. For me, it's the first time. But, still, I believe I have a chance."
The dainty, 1.68m-tall European admitted she is feeling the nerves ahead of her "dream" match, but said her victory on Wednesday has given her belief.
"I learnt I have to believe in my chance against her," said Halep.
"I have the game to beat her. I just have to stay aggressive all the time. It's good I played her this week. I know how she's playing, how she's hitting.
"It will be a tough match, but I only want to enjoy it. I don't want to think anything else."
To say Halep has caught the eye on her debut at the WTA Finals is an understatement.
Tennis legend Billie Jean King called her "exceptional".
And former world No. 1 Tracy Austin, a commentator here, described her game against Radwanska as "flawless".
Halep served up an impressive 26 winners to Radwanska's four and also four aces to boot. She wrapped the game up in just 67 minutes.
"She was just too good today," Radwanska conceded.
"She was very solid from the beginning. No mistakes. Everything coming back. Changing lines. Serving very well.
"Everything was working for her today, I guess."