Singapore: Maria Sharapova's hopes of ending a year as world number one for the first time in her career faded dramatically yesterday when she crashed in straight sets to Petra Kvitova at the WTA Finals.
Maria Sharapova during her match against Petra Kvitova in Singapore yesterday. Pics/AFP
The Russian superstar needed a win to boost her chances of overtaking top-ranked Serena Williams but she blew up in spectacular fashion as Kvitova won 6-3, 6-2 in 75 minutes in Singapore.
To finish the year as world number one, second-ranked Sharapova, 27, now needs to win the end-of-season championship and hope Williams doesn't reach the final.
But her first loss to Kvitova since 2011 left her campaign hanging by a thread as she sits bottom of White Group with two defeats and one round-robin match left against Agnieszka Radwanska.
Petra Kvitova returns to Maria Sharapova yesterday
"Of course I had a long match, over three hours a day ago, but I don't feel tired," said Sharapova, who went down in three sets to Caroline Wozniacki in her opening match.
"I'm happy to be here, I'm happy to be part of this event. It's easy to sit here and say, 'Yeah, I'm tired'. I lost two matches. But that's not the way I feel or the way that I choose to speak.
"I still have a match ahead of me, and I will do my best to finish it on a good note. That's the only thing I can ask of myself."
It was a very different story for the resurgent Caroline Wozniacki, who beat Agnieszka Radwanska 7-5, 6-3 to near a spot in the semi-finals. Sharapova won the first two games against Kvitova but then went to pieces as the Wimbledon champion won the next five straight and took the first set 6-3.
Meanwhile, Serena Williams hit back from her embarrassing defeat by demolishing Eugenie Bouchard 6-1, 6-1 to keep her campaign alive in fearsome fashion yesterday.
Simona Halep qualified for the semis without picking up a racquet yesterday when Eugenie Bouchard won the first game of her match against Serena Williams.