WTA Finals: Serena Williams' pressure tactics

SERENA WILLIAMS, who beat Caroline Wozniacki 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) to enter the final of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals today, tells The Sunday Times about her softer side. She will meet Simona Halep (above), who beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-2 last nigh
SERENA WILLIAMS, who beat Caroline Wozniacki 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) to enter the final of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals today, tells The Sunday Times about her softer side. She will meet Simona Halep (above), who beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-2 last night for today’s battle for the Billie Jean King trophy. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIMST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
SERENA WILLIAMS (above), who beat Caroline Wozniacki 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) to enter the final of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals today, tells The Sunday Times about her softer side. She will meet Simona Halep, who beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-2 last nigh
SERENA WILLIAMS (above), who beat Caroline Wozniacki 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) to enter the final of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals today, tells The Sunday Times about her softer side. She will meet Simona Halep, who beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-2 last night for today’s battle for the Billie Jean King trophy. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONGST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
World No. 1 Serena Williams (above left) came from behind in her 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) victory against Caroline Wozniacki at the WTA Finals at the Singapore Indoor Stadium yesterday. The American will need a good start in today's final against world No
World No. 1 Serena Williams (above left) came from behind in her 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) victory against Caroline Wozniacki at the WTA Finals at the Singapore Indoor Stadium yesterday. The American will need a good start in today's final against world No. 3 Simona Halep, who beat her decisively in the round-robin stage.
World No. 1 Serena Williams (above) came from behind in her 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) victory against Caroline Wozniacki at the WTA Finals at the Singapore Indoor Stadium yesterday. The American will need a good start in today's final against world No. 3 S
World No. 1 Serena Williams (above) came from behind in her 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) victory against Caroline Wozniacki at the WTA Finals at the Singapore Indoor Stadium yesterday. The American will need a good start in today's final against world No. 3 Simona Halep, who beat her decisively in the round-robin stage. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONGST PHOTOS: MARK CHEONG, KEVIN LIM

Fighting spirit evident against Wozniacki will help Serena's quest to turn tables on Halep

Serena Williams does not like dramatic movies. "I can't deal with the pressure. It's too stressful for me. It's too much," she had said before.

But when she takes to the Centre Court of the Singapore Indoor Stadium today, racket bag in hand and headband in place, she will already be embroiled in an intriguing movie-type plot.

The world No. 1 player is defending her BNP Paribas WTA Finals crown against world No. 3 Simona Halep in today's championship match.

Against an opponent who has 10 fewer years of experience than her, has no grand slam titles to her total of 18 and has an inferior 1-3 head-to-head record against her, one might think this match should not be a problem for the American tennis star.

Except it was the diminutive 23-year-old Romanian who inflicted on Williams her biggest defeat (0-6, 2-6) in 16 years when they met in the round-robin stage last Wednesday.

Today, Williams, 33, will get another chance to show the young upstart who is queen bee, to put on record that the pasting she got last week from Halep was just a one-off.

The two-time defending champion was in a buoyant mood after her thrilling 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) victory over good friend Caroline Wozniacki yesterday.

She fought back from 1-4 down in the third set tie-break to win 8-6, showing signs of her trademark determination.

Williams said the key for her is to start today's final well, having lost her first set to Wozniacki in 26 minutes, and smashing her racket in frustration amid the poor start.

"I had a good warm-up and I wanted to have a really good start but it just wasn't happening. I need to figure that out actually because it's inexcusable for it to happen once, let alone twice," she said.

Against Halep, Williams must turn on her "A" game from the start.

Halep's 1.68m, 60kg frame might look lightweight next to Williams' muscular 1.75m, 68kg frame, but the WTA Finals debutante has shown a tremendous appetite for the big stage.

Against Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska, it was this nerveless attitude that saw her clinically dispatch her opponent 6-2, 6-2, in their semi-final clash.

She converted five out of six break points, and hit 26 winners to Radwanska's four, helped in part by her giant backhand volleys, which flew down the line with unerring accuracy.

All these give Halep belief that she is on course for her second giant-slaying feat in less than a week.

She said: "I know how she's playing, how she's hitting. I have the game to beat her.

"Indoors, I always played good tennis. I have to be aggressive. I have no chance if I stay behind the baseline. The last match, I had a plan in my head just to move her a lot and just to open the court, to open the angles.

"I just want to enjoy the finals and try everything."

Make no mistake, today's match will be dramatic. But Williams, smarting from her defeat, is ready.

She said: "I don't do pressure well. Only on the court. You would be surprised."

siangyee@sph.com.sg

WTA Finals Singapore: Doubles & Singles finals

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