WTA Finals Red Group: Halep and Sharapova feature on day one
Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | October 24, 2015
WTA Finals Red Group, matchday one
- Singapore Indoor Stadium, Singapore
- Halep and Pennetta kick off competition at roughly 07:00 GMT
- Sharapova and Radwanska follow up at approx 11:30 GMT
Halep and Sharapova contenders in Serena’s absence
The WTA Finals is finally upon us and, with the eight-woman singles event being without world number one and superstar Serena Williams, there is plenty to play for in this elite line-up.
Coral preview the first day of the competition in Singapore, where Simona Halep is up against Flavia Pennetta, before former champion Maria Sharapova takes on Agnieszka Radwanska in the round-robin Red Group.
Simona Halep v Flavia Pennetta
Tournament (10/3) and Red Group (7/4) favourite Halep comes into this event as world number two, but her high standing perhaps gives her too much credit for what she has achieved in 2015.
It is clear she has plenty of talent, but tends to flop on the bigger stage, though she will be aiming to go one step further than when she was thrashed by Serena in the final last year.
Shock US Open champion Pennetta is her first challenger, and Halep is odds-on at 2/5 to defeat the Italian veteran, who retires from the sport after this tournament.
However, Pennetta boats a 4-1 career record over the rising Romanian star, so is a tempting 2/1 shout.
None of their five meetings have gone the distance – the one time it did go the three sets Halep had to retire hurt – and each have beaten the other this year. The 24-year-old is an even-money chance to win 2-0, but Pennetta is more tempting at 4/1 for that same scoreline in her favour.
Maria Sharapova v Agnieszka Radwanska
As for 2004 WTA Finals champion Sharapova, there is no doubt that she has dominated her first opponent Radwanska, having beaten her 12 times in 14 meetings before. It is a surprise, therefore, that both are priced odds-on at 10/11 to win.
That could be perhaps due to the fact that the Pole is in great current form, having claimed two titles recently (Tianjin and Pan Pacific Opens).
But it is very difficult to see past the five-time Grand Slam winning Russian (6/1 title chance), who has beaten Radwanska in each of their last five head-to-heads.
In fact, the duo met at this stage of this event last year, with Sharapova triumphing in three sets. So, back her at 3/1 to do so once more.
Coral’s top tip: Sharapova beat Radwanka 2-1 here last year, so is very tempting at 3/1 to do so again.