WTA Finals: Consistency has been hallmark of 2017 for Simona Halep, Caroline Wozniacki with both targeting win in S'pore

The Dane former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki (left) and World No. 1 Simona Halep will be competing in the Oct 22 to 29 WTA Finals Singapore.
The Dane former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki (left) and World No. 1 Simona Halep will be competing in the Oct 22 to 29 WTA Finals Singapore.PHOTO: REUTERS, SAMUEL RUBY RIANTO

SINGAPORE - Semi-finals in Stuttgart, a title in Madrid, final in Rome, final at the French Open.

World No. 1 Simona Halep's results at those four tournaments over seven weeks from April to June this year reflect the consistency of her game, despite constant travelling and little to no time between events.

The Romanian's steadiness this term has earned her a berth at the season-ending BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global for the fourth year in a row.

Halep is the only singles player to feature in all editions of the US$7 million (S$9.5 million) event in Singapore, which is contested by the world's top eight singles players and doubles teams.

Speaking to The Straits Times in China at the Wuhan Open in September, the 26-year-old said: "I think consistency matches my personality and my game, so I'm happy and proud that I can be in Singapore again.

"It shows that I ... have been playing well during the years - I'm not a big hitter so (consistency) has helped me get there."

Over the years, Halep, who has won 15 WTA titles and almost US$20 million in prizemoney, has steadily ascended the rankings. After rising 36 places - from 47 to 11 - in 2013, she continued her climb to the top, eventually reaching the peak two weeks ago.

Halep's coach Darren Cahill noted that the difficulty of making such deep runs in multiple tournaments should not be underestimated.

He cited the mental and physical challenges like coping with constantly being in different time zones, training and competing while jet-lagged, spending extended periods of time away from home.

Speaking to ST in Singapore this week, the Australian said the non-stop travel was a key reason the game is "one of the hardest sports in the world to excel and be elite at".

Pointing out that other sports are played in the same country - golf and American football in the US, for instance, Cahill believes it takes unique internal resilience to cope with the demands of professional tennis.

"You have to be mentally strong, you have to be prepared no matter which part of the world you are," he said. "Every morning, out of your hotel bed, different hotels, be prepared to work hard and find ways to improve.

"So I have great respect for all the players trying to do well but more so the top 10, who week in week out put themselves on the line. It can wear you down."

The Oct 22-29 WTA Finals Singapore will be Halep's 18th tournament of the season, and 23rd for Caroline Wozniacki.

The Dane former world No. 1, who leads the tour with the most number of matches won (56), is returning to the Singapore Indoor Stadium after failing to qualify for the last two editions.

The 27-year-old had dropped to world No. 74 last year but is now ranked sixth after a markedly consistent campaign. She reached a season-high seven finals in 2017 and captured last month's Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. It also maintained her streak of winning at least one title every year since 2008.

"To go far week in and week out is very difficult because throughout the tournament, whether it's first round or second, or quarter-finals, you'll play players that have big power in their game," she said.

"On any given day, they can beat anyone. I think that makes it harder to be playing consistently deep in any tournament."

Despite the relentless grind, neither she nor Halep are targeting anything less than a spot in next Sunday's (Oct 29) singles final, and possibly another trophy to add to their collection.