Sharapova screams past Halep, retiring Pennetta prevails
By Patrick Johnston
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Maria Sharapova continued her mastery of Romania's Simona Halep with a high quality 6-4 6-4 victory filled with bruising baseline rallies to edge closer to a last four berth at the WTA Finals on Tuesday.
The Russian world number four topped the Red Group at the eight women end-of-season finals with her second win and next faces U.S. Open champion Flavia Pennetta, who said she would retire after the tournament, with a semi-final spot on the line.
The 33-year-old Italian had earlier kept alive her WTA Finals bid with a flurry of backhand winners as she downed a strapped up and fatigued Agnieszka Radwanska 7-6(5) 6-4 to leave the Pole bottom of the standings with two defeats.
It was Pennetta's first win in the group -- she was blown away by top seed Halep 6-0 6-3 in her opener on Sunday -- with her backhand proving a particularly devastating weapon at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Sharapova's win over the Romanian means all four players in the group still hold hopes of grabbing one of two semi-final spots available and Pennetta said she had been impressed by the Russian, who has been hit with injury problems since Wimbledon.
"She has this adrenaline because she was out for three or four months, something like that," the Italian told reporters. "When you come in the court after so long you are with a lot of energy. It's going to be tough for sure."
FEROCIOUS BATTLE Continued...