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Halep And Sharapova Shine On Day 1

Looking to end their seasons strongly, Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova had solid starts at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. Day 1 also featured scintillating doubles performances from two pairs of major champions.

SINGAPORE - Simona Halep avenged her US Open semifinal defeat to Flavia Pennetta at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global on Sunday; the top seed dispatched the No.7 seed, 6-0, 6-3, in just over an hour.

"I started the match really well," the World No.2 said after the match. "I played my best in the first set, fast, smart, and aggressive."

For Pennetta, it was a tough start for the reigning US Open champion, who plans to retire on the concluson of the tournament, but given the round robin format, still has plenty of opportunities to turn her week around.

"Of course, I would love to have played a little bit better, but I still have my chance. I'm really enjoying playing this event. I still have two matches I have to play, so we will see what happens."

No.3 seed Maria Sharapova had a much tougher time in what was only her second match since playing the semifinals of Wimbledon. Up against an on-fire Agnieszka Radwanska, Sharapova withstood the Pole's full arsenal of shots before eventually closing her out in three sets, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

"This is my first completed match since July, so it's a pretty big deal for me!" exclaimed Sharapova, who was forced to retire in the opening round of the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open nearly one moth ago.

Looking on course to a seamless final set, the former No.1 wobbled within feet of the finish line, allowing the feisty Radwanska to break back and earn even more break points to level the match in the tenth game.

"I definitely didn't use my chances," Radwanska said after the match. "I started slowly in the second set and I guess I was too late to come back. Obviously in that third set I could have come back to 5-all, at least.

"In those kinds of matches, when you're not using your chances, it's not really ending your way."

The doubles event also got underway in Singapore, with No.2 seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova playing their first match together since winning the Rogers Cup in Toronto. Up against a pair of solid Spaniards, Mattek-Sands and Safarova dispatched Garbiñe Muguruza and Carla Suárez Navarro, 6-3, 7-6(1).

"We were excited to kick-start the championships here as the first match up," Mattek-Sands said after the match.

Closing play on Sunday were No.7 seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, who earned the lone upset of the day against No.4 seeds Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic, beating the WTA Rising Stars, 6-2, 6-1. 

"We beat a higher ranked seed by such a great score and with such great tennis, and we're looking forward to the other matches," Hlavackova said after the 56-minute win.

Safarova is back on court tomorrow to play No.2 seed Muguruza in singles, while No.4 seed Petra Kvitova makes her 2015 WTA Finals debut against No.6 seed Angelique Kerber. In doubles, No.3 seeds Chan Yung-Jan and Chan Hao-Ching take on No.5 seeds Caroline Garcia (who reached the final of the WTA Rising Stars Invitational) and Katarina Srebotnik, while top seeds Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza close play against No.6 seed Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears.