Serena wins; Halep into semis at WTA Finals

Singapore (SportsNetwork.com) - Reigning two-time champion Serena Williams went 2-1 in round-robin action this week at the season-ending $6.5 million WTA Finals.

The U.S. Open champion blitzed fifth-seeded Canadian Eugenie Bouchard (0-2) in 6-1, 6-1 fashion in 57 minutes on the hardcourts at Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Williams was coming off the equal-worst loss of her career against Halep on Wednesday.

"Yesterday was tough for me but I had to put that behind me," Williams said. "My coach really helped me do that and just focus on today, and focus on the fact that I'm still in the tournament."

While Halep had the day off, she still got a win, though. By virtue of Bouchard getting just one of her two games on the board against Williams, Halep (2-0) became the first player to qualify for Saturday's semifinals.

Williams has captured this prestigious eight-player tournament four times, including last year and in 2012, in Istanbul. The American great, who beat Li Na in last year's finale, is also a two-time runner-up at this event.

Meanwhile, third-seeded Wimbledon titlist Petra Kvitova (1-1) upset second- seeded French Open champ Maria Sharapova (0-2) with a 6-3, 6-2 decision on Day 4.

Kvitova, who beat Sharapova in the 2011 Wimbledon final, had lost her last five matches against the Russian veteran.

Sharapova captured the WTA Finals title in 2004 and is a two-time runner-up at the event, while Kvitova was the champ three years ago.

The world No. 2 Sharapova's second loss of the week left Williams on the verge of clinching the year-end No. 1 ranking for the fourth time.

For the Russian to leapfrog the American, Sharapova would need to win the tournament and rely on Williams bowing out before the final, but the odds are now heavily stacked against that.

One other match saw eighth-seeded U.S. Open runner-up Caroline Wozniacki (2-0) handle sixth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska 7-5, 6-3. Radwanska dropped to 1-1 for the week.

Wozniacki now leads the White Group and was asked whether she feels like a favorite now.

"I need to get out of the group first. I don't know how that's standing or where it is," she said. "I don't think there are any favorites here, though. I think everyone can beat anyone on a good day. It has shown this week -- we're all playing well, and you just need to try and go for it every time."

Round-robin play will end on Friday with a trio of matches, as Sharapova will face Radwanska, Kvitova will take on Wozniacki and fourth-seeded French Open runner-up Simona Halep will tangle with seventh-seeded Ana Ivanovic (1-1). A Halep victory or one set win from the Romanian would send Williams into the final four. If Ivanovic beats Halep in straight sets then a tiebreak method would take effect -- whichever one of Williams and Ivanovic has won the highest percentage of games played during the tournament will join Halep in the semis.

This week's four-player Red Group features Williams, Halep, Bouchard and the former No. 1 Ivanovic, while the White Group boasts the former top- ranked star Sharapova, Kvitova, Radwanska and the former No. 1 and 2010 WTA Finals runner-up Wozniacki. Halep and Bouchard are making their Finals debuts.

Sharapova, Kvitova, Radwanska and Wozniacki all still have a chance to go to the semifinals, as all four will play on Friday and the results of their matches will determine who qualifies for the semis.