Halep crashes out of WTA Finals
World No. 1 exits competition at the group stage for the third time in four years
She stumbled as she mounted the second of two steps to get onto the stage of the press conference room at the Singapore Sports Hub last night.
It was perhaps an apt analogy of Simona Halep's failed campaign at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global this year.
The 26-year-old Romanian needed to win her final Red Group tie against Elina Svitolina last night at the Singapore Indoor Stadium to qualify for today's semi-finals.
Instead, the world No. 1 went down 6-3, 6-4 to world No. 4 Svitolina in 71 minutes, and exited the prestigious US$7 million (S$9.6m) season-ending tournament at the group stage for the third time in four years.
"I think I played better than I did against Caroline Wozniacki (on Wednesday) and that was my goal actually," said Halep, who beat Caroline Garcia but lost to Wozniacki earlier in the tournament.
"Today, I just felt 100 per cent that the court was not for me, and I couldn't finish a point, so it was a bit tough to find a rhythm and also to make a winner.
"But I fought till the end, it was a good match, not great, but a good one," added a relaxed and smiling Halep, who took "seven minutes" after the match to transition into a post-season mode.
Halep and Svitolina had met thrice this year.
In May, Svitolina beat Halep 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 in the Italian Open final.
At the French Open quarter-finals in June, Svitolina held match point at 6-3, 5-1, but crumbled to eventually lose 6-3, 6-7(6/8), 0-6.
But the Ukrainian recovered to beat Halep 6-1, 6-1 a couple of months later on the hard courts of the Rogers Cup in Toronto.
"I was just trying to play for one point at a time and play for the fans that were there," said Svitolina, who was already eliminated even before the match, following Garcia's 0-6, 6-3, 7-5 win over Wozniacki earlier yesterday.
"I couldn't just go there and lose or don't do anything. I needed to do something today.
"I just tried to play the right way, the right thing that I had to do to beat Simona, and it worked today."
With Halep's elimination, Frenchwoman Garcia will continue her "weird" run in Singapore.
She was the last of the eight singles players to qualify for the Finals earlier this month.
"I tried to prepare myself the best I could, but it was kind of weird to be here," said the jubilant 24-year-old after her match, and before the Halep-Svitolina encounter.
With the results yesterday, Garcia qualified top of her group and will play American Venus Williams in the semi-finals today, while Wozniacki will face Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova in the other last-four tie.
Garcia said: "She (Williams) did surprise me yesterday with her win against (Garbine) Muguruza in two sets; a couple of times I thought she was done, but she always came back.
"She has a lot of experience and knows how to manage this kind of matches; I will not be the aggressive player on court. It will be a very different match from my last three."