Reem’s Singapore diary: Unforgettable start to WTA Finals proceedings

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Star-studded show: Li Na in Singapore.

Singapore promised glitz and glamour and it certainly hasn’t disappointed so far.

The pre-tournament interviews have been taking place at the beautiful ArtScience Museum at the Marina Bay Sands resort with the city’s beautiful canals in the backdrop.

The opening ceremony of the WTA Finals at the Singapore Indoor Stadium yesterday resembled a pop concert with some brilliant percussionists kicking off proceedings before a children’s choir sang the national anthem.

Pop group, Us the Duo, who went from making Vine videos on the internet to touring with Oprah, sang a couple of songs before the recently-retired Chinese star Li Na was brought on the court to hit a ceremonial serve to one of the winners in the “Future Stars” tournament earlier in the day.

“You want me to serve in heels?” asked Li Na on court. But she didn’t just serve, she went on to rally, in heels, with the young girl.

It was almost a full house for opening day which is a great sign of what’s to come, especially with the Finals staying here in Singapore for another four years.

The WTA started four decades ago with the slogan “We’ve come a long way, baby!” and that remains to be very true. As the song, “I’m on top of the world” blasted throughout the stadium with images of all the various cities that play host to WTA events across the globe, projected on the court surface, you couldn’t help but marvel at how far women’s sport has come.

BFFs

The friendship between Caroline Wozniacki and Serena Williams has been over-analysed and over-reported but it continues to fascinate the masses, especially with players often insisting that the tour is not a place to make friendships.

Asked if being able to have a real friend on tour was a development that came along as she grew up or if she had been open to it as a young player, Williams said: “It's definitely something that's come about when I'm older. Some people you just have a connection to. It's not about whether you're friends with them or not. It's just about you have this attraction without even trying.

“I think with Caroline, even when she was younger, we've always had this little connection. The older we both got it got stronger and stronger. We're the best of friends. She helps me, I help her.

“Life is far too short and there are so many things that are so much more important in life than, you know, hitting a tennis ball. Things do last longer than tennis. I think if you do have a good friendship, even if it's one, it's worth it.”

It certainly is. And you know who was courtside for Williams’ opening match yesterday? None other than Wozniacki, of course.

Most popular

Related Sections

Serena Williams reaches sweet sixteen at WTA Finals

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Winning ways: Serena Williams celebrates her victory against Ana Ivanovic of Serbia during the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) championships in Singapore.

Serena Williams joked that she lost her voice from yelling too many “come ons” during her win over Ana Ivanovic, and it was that kind of intensity from both players that served as a fitting kick-off for the first of five WTA Finals to be held in Singapore.

Entering the match coming off a knee injury, and having just started practicing a week ago, Williams was pleased to dispatch Ivanovic 6-4, 6-4, in the opening match of the Red Group on Monday.

“I felt the knee a little bit, but compared to what it was in Beijing, it feels so much better,” the top seed revealed after her 78-minute win.

The world No1 registered her 16th consecutive victory at the season-ending championships, having won the title on her last three participations.

In front of a sellout crowd, both Williams and Ivanovic provided an entertaining affair, the American with her famous splits and the Serb with her animated fist pumps.

“Playing against Ana, she's incredibly intense and I'm incredibly intense,” said Williams. “She's a really good player and plays really fast and strong and hard and she just does everything so well.

“So you got to get serious from the first point or she can win really fast.”

The pair were playing for a fifth time this season, with Williams winning three of their four meetings heading into the match but Ivanovic is the only one of the finalists to have posted a victory over the American this season.

Ivanovic has won the most matches in the WTA this year, amassing a whopping 56 victories with no one coming even close to her tally (Carla Suarez Navarro is second on the list with 49).

Williams had to rely on her serve early on, saving to break points in her opening game.

But it was the American who got the first break of the match. Ivanovic’s serve bailed on her in the fourth game and she double-faulted to gift Williams two break points. The top seed only needed one, as she broke for 3-1 with a huge return.

The margin between Ivanovic’s A-game and her meltdown mode was miniscule. She appeared to be more in control in the early games but suddenly found herself 1-4 down due to some poor serving.

The double faults continued to haunt her in game six but she held on. The world No7 produced some brilliant shots, including a volley winner that sent the crowds into a frenzy as she broke Williams to love to cut the gap to 3-4 and she soon drew level as her forehand sent Williams into an acrobatic split.

In game nine, Ivanovic hit a cross court forehand winner to get break point and she almost broke but her volley was just long. That error saved Williams, who went on to hold with a 190km/hr serve.

“That was a huge point, I think, but it was actually quite a hard volley,” Ivanovic said of that missed volley. “The ball was dropping fast. I didn't come in fast enough. It was just a bit unlucky.” 

The ball toss deserted Ivanovic in game 10 and two double-faults – one on set point – handed over the set to Williams.

Ivanovic started strong in the second set, breaking the Williams serve in the opening game but the American broke right back.

The match remained on serve up until 5-4 but just like the first set, Ivanovic lost the 10th game, getting broken to 15 to lose the match.

“Definitely very disappointed that both sets I made few easy errors in the last service game,” said Ivanovic. “I felt I created lots of chancing, especially off the ground. But the serve made a big difference today.”

Later on centre court, in the battle of the Finals debutantes, Simona Halep poured misery on Eugenie Bouchard, who rose to a career-high No5 ranking yesterday, by defeating the 20-year-old Canadian 6-2, 6-3 in 68 minutes.

Bouchard hit a shocking 30 unforced errors to just 13 winners.

The Wimbledon finalist, who hasn’t played a match since finishing runner-up at Wuhan over three weeks ago, blamed rustiness on her poor performance.

“Today there was definitely a lack of consistency,” said Bouchard.

“It's unfortunate. I think it's something you kind of get when you haven't played a competitive match since like Wuhan. I didn't feel match sharp. But I feel like I can build on this.  I still have another match, even though I lost, so there is a positive.”

The Wimbledon finalist, who hasn’t played a match since finishing runner-up at Wuhan over three weeks ago, blamed rustiness on her poor performance.

“Today there was definitely a lack of consistency,” said Bouchard.

“It's unfortunate. I think it's something you kind of get when you haven't played a competitive match since like Wuhan. I didn't feel match sharp. But I feel like I can build on this.  I still have another match, even though I lost, so there is a positive.”

Most popular

Related Sections

Reem's Singapore diary: Sharapova can't wait to write a book

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Juicy stories: Maria Sharapova can't wait to share her tales with the public.

It had been a busy day in Singapore yesterday with all eight players along with the now-retired Li Na all coming to speak to the press for the WTA All Access Hour, which is more like five hours of continuous interviews.

Li Na was her typical hilarious self as always but when the subject of a potential comeback to tennis – which she just quit one month ago – is broached, her answer is as quick as lightning.

“Of course I’m not going to come back to tennis. I’m already 32, beginning of next year I’ll be 33. I think I have to take care of my family right now,” insisted the Chinese star.

She was back to joking soon after when someone asked her if she’d consider opening a tennis academy in Singapore. “I was born in China, I grew up in China. For sure my first tennis academy will be in China. If business was doing well, yes, why not?” she laughed.

Meanwhile, Maria Sharapova hinted that she has lots of juicy stories in store for us when she finally decides to publish her memoirs. The Russian had tweeted a photo of all eight players sitting side by side at the players’ party here in Singapore, calling it “the pic of the night”. 

A very cryptic and sarcastic Sharapova laughed when she was asked about that photo yesterday, saying: “It’s like a thousand words in one picture. It’s incredible. Can’t wait to write a book. 

“Those are the moments where I’m like ‘oh, my goodness. I just wrote a whole chapter in one evening’. Yeah, looked like a lot of fun, huh? Love those things.”

We can’t wait until that book comes to life. We’re keeping our Kindles ready!

Most popular

Related Sections