World No. 1 Angelique Kerber was tested straight off the bat on the opening Sunday at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals in Singapore as No. 7 seed Dominika Cibulkova stretched the German, who eventually prevailed 7-6(5), 2-6, 6-3.
“I cannot say I was nervous, but maybe I was too excited maybe in the beginning,” said Kerber, who was a break down in the final set. “But after few games I just started to play my tennis.”
Cibulkova said the loss would not get her down as she still has hopes for the semifinals due to the round robin format.
“I think it was pretty good match,” she said. “I made few mistakes, few mistakes from the second serve and I missed two easy shots. It was really close. In this game, it’s all about small details. She was just bit more consistent in few games, and that’s what made her win today.”
In the other match on the day, No. 3 seed Simona Halep put down No. 6-seeded American Madison Keys 6-2, 6-4.
It was another example of Keys’ big hitting being inferior to the steadiness of a top-level opponent.
“I felt very well on court today,” Halep said after the match. “It was better that I knew her. I played few times this year. I won every time, so I had an advantage. But still I played a good tennis. I think I played exactly what I had to play against her. I was focused, everything went as I wanted, so I’m happy with the way that I played…Here [the court] was less [fast]. I could maneuver the game as I wanted. The ball is staying low here, so I think fits me. It’s good that I can be strong on my legs.”
Keys committed 41 unforced errors to 16 winners during the match.
“I just think having a match under my belt, there is a little bit less nerves going out next time and I can go and play with nothing to lose,” Keys said regarding moving forward.
Halep will next meet Kerber. Cibulkova will next face Keys. Both were matches in the Red Group, with two matches to be played on Monday in the White Group round robin.
Matches scheduled for Monday in Singapore are No. 2 Agnieszka Radwanska vs. No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova, and No. 4 Karolina Pliskova vs. No. 5 Garbine Muguruza.
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