Frustrated Simona can't find a way past superior Maria
Halep rues missed opportunity, vows she'll be back
Under the bright lights of the Singapore Indoor Stadium, half of the purple tennis court somehow seemed to turn neon when Simona Halep zipped this way and that.
Compact, curvy, and often firing sumptuous shots from near impossible angles, the world No. 2's orange outfit burnt a fiery orange, perhaps reflecting the frustration that seemed to emanate from the Romanian.
She did not play badly last night, but Halep lost 6-4, 6-4 to a superior Maria Sharapova in the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. Indeed, the 24-year-old came back from 5-1 down in the second set to almost force a tiebreaker, against a Sharapova who has played only once since being struck down by various injuries since July. But when it counted, Halep just could not find a way past the lanky, lithe blonde in baby-blue armed with laser-guided bullets. "I think I did a good job today. I did everything I could, I was fighting until the end, but again, it's the same story: I was close but I couldn't win," said Halep, the top seed here with Serena Williams missing. Her head-to-head record against the Russian is abysmal - she has never beaten Sharapova in what is now six attempts, even if the 28-year-old is now ranked fourth in the world.
"But I will work," she vowed.
"Now I'm more motivated that I have to learn things to beat her."
It was evident that Halep was trying just about everything at the Indoor Stadium. She went down the line, cross court, even moved further forward to be more aggressive, tried dropped shots, but nothing seemed to work consistently against Sharapova.
And it took its toll. Stemming more from frustration than mere petulance, Halep slammed her racket against the floor twice, called her coach down to courtside the same number of times, and once - just before Sharapova broke her serve to win the first set - she punched away a ball that was bounced to her by a ball-girl.
There was none of that anger when she met the media afterwards, though, simply acceptance that she had been beaten by a better player.
The Red Group remains wide open with Agnieszka Radwanska and Flavia Pennetta all in with a chance to qualify for the semi-finals. "Sharapova played really well today, even if she didn't play for a long time, since Wimbledon. She knows how to play, she's a champion, she has experience," said Halep."I can say I feel she's playing really well against me always, but that's tennis. I have to accept and to do things better."
But the belief has not been extinguished.
"The way Sharapova played today I think she has a chance to win this," said Halep. "But of course I believe that I have my chance also."
BY THE numbers
One of the reasons for her loss was the 11 break points faced by Simona Halep, who saved six of them. Maria Sharapova had three break points against her, although she could not save any of them.