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Things We Learned

Many pundits figured the WTA Finals would end with Serena playing Maria. We've learned a few things since the Draw Ceremony...

As the old adage says: “That’s why they play the games.”

Random things we’ve learned at this stage of the 2014 BNP Paribas WTA Finals presented by SC Global.

After the Draw Ceremony last Saturday, the media analysis fell into two camps: One camp believed Serena faced a difficult group with Ana Ivanovic and two rising stars in Simona Halep and Genie Bouchard. The other group looked at the two young players and concluded that the World No. 1 would feed off their inexperience on the big stage.

With half of the Red Group officially complete (Simona Halep and Ana Ivanovic close round-robin play on Friday), we’ve learned two things wrapped in one event: The Red Group wasn’t easy and Simona Halep is not a rising star. She is a star.

Halep handed Williams her worst defeat in 16 years. And, unfortunately for Bouchard, a motivated Williams sought redemeption. Bouchard won the first set – helping Halep automatically qualify for the semifinals -- before dropping the next 11 in a row. The first set required a mere 28 minutes and the entire match just 57.

Serena said her serve was on a “10-year junior” level in the Halep match.  Apparently it returned to the adult ranks when Serena unleased a 127 mph rocket in game 12. “I decided I was up 40-Love and to try and go for a big serve.” It worked.

Bouchard exited having suffered the worst defeat of her career.

We will bank on this: Bouchard will be well-motivated by her admittedly-disappointing play in this tournament and will prepare for 2015 with vengeance. This experience might actually propel her to a higher level (hey, at No. 5 in the world she's not done too shabby).

Meanwhile, in the White Group, is there a person around who isn’t shocked that Maria Sharapova is 0-2?

Sharapova made a quick, 75-minute exit at the hands of Petra Kvitova on Thursday. Although in the opening game it looked as though Sharapova would avenge her opening marathon loss to Caroline Wozniacki when she broke Kvitova, but Kvitova would go on to break Maria five times; including three in the second set. Sharapova served six double-faults.

Kvitova and Sharapova played a 10-minute seventh game that Sharapova eventually won. She closed the gap to 5-2, but Petra closed it out on the serve.

The victory helped Kvitova snap a five-match losing streak to Maria over the past three years.

We also learned that Kvitova, who had to wait as Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki played their marathon match, does not like to play matches late at night.

We discovered that you can train for a marathon, play a three-hour match, recover and beat your best friend as Wozniacki did when she defeated Agnieszka Radwanska.

Did you know Radwanska owns an arsenal of stealthy drop shots?

 And…we can bank on more surprises being in store as the tournament carries on.