Sofia, Bulgaria (SportsNetwork.com) - Top seed Simona Halep and two-time champion Ana Ivanovic posted round-robin victories Thursday at the season- ending WTA Tournament of Champions.
The surging Romanian star and group winner Halep leveled helpless Ukrainian alternate Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-1 in a mere 47 minutes on Day 3. The five- time 2014 WTA titlist Halep will now play in the semifinals on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the second-seeded, former world No. 1 and former French Open champ Ivanovic held off fourth-seeded former U.S. Open titlist Samantha Stosur 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 on the indoor hardcourt at Armeets Arena. Ivanovic captured this event back-to-back in 2010 and 2011 in Bali.
This tournament features an eight-woman field that is divided into two groups. Round-robin play will be staged through Friday, with the semifinals on Saturday and a Sunday final.
Group Serdika features the undefeated Halep (3-0), third-seeded Russian Maria Kirilenko (0-1), sixth-seeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (1-1) and seventh-seeded Frenchwoman Alize Cornet (1-1). An injured Kirilenko was replaced in the field this week by the winless Svitolina (0-2).
Group Sredets is comprised of the 2-0 Ivanovic, Stosur (1-1), fifth seed Elena Vesnina (1-1) and eighth-seeded Tsvetana Pironkova (0-2). Vesnina topped Pironkova 6-2, 4-6, 6-0 on Thursday.
On Friday, Ivanovic will face Vesnina, Stosur will encounter Pironkova, and Pavlyuchenkova will take on Cornet.
The field consists of the six highest-ranked players who won at least one International Series tournament during the year and did not qualify for last week's WTA Championships in Istanbul or are not participating in this week's Fed Cup final. Ivanovic and Pironkova were invited as wild cards.