Thursday October 30th, 2014

SINGAPORE -- The inaugural year of the 2014 WTA Finals in Singapore brought 129,000 spectators to the Lion City for ten days of action. The year-end championships featured eight women representing eight different countries, with Serena Williams winning her third WTA Finals title and the $6.5 million purse. In case you missed it, here’s a round up of the best quotes from the final group while in Singapore: 

Despite the 6-3, 6-0 loss to Serena in the final, Simona Halep is looking forward to going back home to Romania and partying. "Yeah, I will do. I don't forget that I beat Serena this week, so..."

Petra Kvitova switched up rackets before the World Tour Finals, using the lighter model of one of the rackets in Roger Federer's new line of Wilson rackets. "Roger is playing with the same one. I want to be [like Roger], so that's why I change it. But I was still playing two‑handed backhand for a while."

Ana Ivanovic couldn't help but get caught up in all the qualification scenarios. She even started doing the math during matches. "At one point in my match today started counting [games], and I'm like, Why am I doing this? I was just trying to see, Okay, if I win this game or that... It's sometimes too much, it keeps your mind occupied."

Eugenie Bouchard on her rusty week: "Usually I can rely on myself to stay in the point, and only if I go for a high‐risk ball do I accept an error. Now it's routine balls are flying on me and little things like that. That's just consistency, practicing, playing, which I haven't done so much."

Serena describing how it all went wrong against Simona Halep in group play, where she lost 6-0, 6-2. "My forehand was off today again. I guess it went on an early vacation. Lord knows my serve was as well. My serve was at best in the 10 and under division in juniors. It was actually embarrassing I think describes the way I played. Yeah, very embarrassing."

Halep after beating Serena:
Q: I'm guessing you're going to be smiling the rest of the day?
Halep: “Yes, and tomorrow.”

Serena on her "epic" racket smash against Caroline Wozniacki: "It was, right? I don't know how many times I hit it, but boy, that racquet will never do my wrong again, I tell you. It was definitely legendary. I kind of lost my cool a little bit. Well at least you know I'm passionate.... I was like, This racquet here ‐‐ it bit the dust so to say. I'm not proud of it."

Sharapova, Wozniacki and Serena tweet up a storm at WTA Finals

Ana Ivanovic will finish the season at No. 5, her highest year-end ranking since 2008. She's proudest of her consistency throughout the year, which netted her four titles and the most match wins on tour. "I really turned it around from the previous seasons and I played a lot and I have the most matches won. I played lots of tennis, and this is huge achievement for me, you know, that I managed to play lots of the matches back to back and managed to win quite few titles. So very, very proud of that. Actually, my fitness coach was saying that I have a title on each continent this year. That's quite nice, and definitely a highlight."

Maria Sharapova sums up her 2014 season. "Going into this year I didn't really know what actually my personal expectations were. I had one goal, and that was to try to remain as healthy as possible, to keep my shoulder strong. I've done an incredible job of that. I think it's one of the few seasons where I haven't withdrawn or retired from an event. I also had a new team. I feel like there are a lot of new things in my career at that point, and I was still kind of trying to get myself back after an injury."

Ivanovic after win against Bouchard:
Q: I think before today you had lost 19 out of 20 matches again top‐5 ranked players. You beat her today. Do you think now you have the game…
Ivanovic: “Great. Thank you. You boost my confidence.” (Laughter.) 
Q: That's what I was going to ask: Do you think now you have the confidence and the game to be able to beat those top players?
Ivanovic: “You see, this is why it's good not to know statistics.”

Bouchard on her breakout season: "It's been crazy, hectic, intense. I don't know, those words come to mind. I've learned a lot. I've learned about myself; about being at the top level of a professional sport; playing big matches; playing against big players; having to deal with pressure after doing well and things like that.”

Bouchard: "I feel like I have so much more to learn still and so much more to improve. Playing against the best in the world today, I got my butt kicked, but I had fun. It actually motivates me to try to get better."

Bouchard on going 0-3 in group play in her WTA Finals debut: "I think losing three matches in one week is tough. Yeah, I don't know. Might take me a while to get over it. We're not used to this. No, I'm kidding."

Great Halepism here about staying grounded after beating Serena. "Just I want to keep my mind on the floor, close to the floor, and just to keep working."

Sharapova is happy with her work this season: “A lot of question marks at the beginning of the season, and I'm happy to be sitting here and saying that I've added another Grand Slam to my resume, that I've won great titles, I had a great clay court season, and a lot of good wins, a lot of tough match that I pulled through that I could have easily lost. We all did as a team and we're still working. Take a few weeks off and hopefully have an injury-free offseason and get ready for next year."

How does Serena rate the new host city on a scale of 1 to 10? "My first album I ever got in my life was Mariah Carey, so the fact that they provided tickets to the Mariah Carey [concert], I give it an 11."

#TBT: Maria Sharapova beats Serena Williams at the 2004 WTA Finals

Wozniacki was devastated after leading Serena 4-1 in the decisive tiebreaker and losing the semifinals. Her first words in her press conference: "This really sucks. You know, being so close and still losing, it really sucks."

More from Wozniacki after that loss: "For me to win the tournament potentially I would have beat No. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 in the world. That doesn't happen ever, you know. So I beat No. 2, 3, and 6. I did that and played really well and came close to beating Serena today, so I can be very proud of myself and the way I turned my season around."

Serena didn't do much celebrating after beating her good friend Wozniacki in the semifinals. "What I really love about our relationship is we really play each other on the court incredibly hard. So, so, so, so, so hard. And then we just try to put it aside out of the court. But I didn't feel great about it, to be honest. She's like my little baby sister from a different mother and father and different country."

Wozniacki has lost to Serena four times in the last three months. "I told Serena, I said, ‘Can you just leave me alone. Like go away from the court. I don't want to see you on the court.  I love you, but stay away from the other side of the court. Quite frankly, I'm tired of losing to you.’"

Serena didn't enjoy the fact that her semifinal fate was out of her hands. "Yeah, it was crazy. I don't want to do that no more. If I qualify next year, I'm winning my matches. I don't like my fate to be in someone else's hands. Halep was up 5-1 and I thought, ‘Well, maybe I'll qualify.’ Then she lost and I called my assistant and said, ‘We might need to book a flight.’ And then next thing I know she was up in the second and then it was even. I thought, ‘This is too much.’ Next year I'm going to play my matches, win the three, and go from there. That's what Caroline did. No stress for her. It's too stressful for me. That was like a drama on Netflix, and I don't like or watch dramas."

The thought of conserving her energy and letting Ivanovic win in straight sets (which would have knocked Serena out of the competition) never crossed Halep's mind. "I just wanted to play my game yesterday against Ivanovic. I didn't think that I can eliminate Serena. Every time when I go on court I just want to do everything I can to win the match. I play with pleasure. I love tennis. That's why. I don't care about results, but when the results are coming so I'm really happy."

Was Serena worried that Halep might intentionally lose and knock her out of the tournament? "If anything, she would've won three matches would've had a chance to go for more points, more money. It's a much better incentive to try your best. Yeah, no one on the tour thinks like that."

Serena doesn't want any drama -- in her life or on the screen. "I don't do pressure well. Only on the court. You would be surprised. I do not do pressure well. What I do is fast forward to the end and I watch like I was watching this movie with Liam Neeson and he was caught in the snow. Wolf or something. You know that movie? It was awful. And he was in a plane crash. I watched the first 20 minutes and my heart rate got going and I said, ‘Okay.’ So I fast forwarded a little bit and still drama. So a little bit more, still drama. So I went to the end and he ended up dying. I thought, What? Imagine if I had watched the whole movie. I would've really been disappointed. I cry easy. I watch comedies and I watch action moves."

Serena rallies to beat Wozniacki, to play for WTA Finals championship

Bouchard on her split from long-time management agency Lagardere: "Currently don't have management right now. It's in the process. Single and ready to mingle. I don't know, feel like maybe I was married and I just got divorce and I'm like, ‘Ahhhh.’ I hope that doesn't happen to me in the future, but I understand some songs and some people more now."

Petra Kvitova finally snapped her five-match losing streak to Sharapova by...not practicing. "I was really [disappointed] when I lost against Aga. It was a match probably I really didn't know what I'm doing. I was so tired and sick of the tennis for a moment. So I didn't practice yesterday at all and I just really relaxed and clean my mind a little bit. I knew that I have a game to beat Maria."

Sharapova on the improvements in Wozniacki's game. The Russian has now lost two straight three setters to her. "She's always been one of the most physically challenging players to play against. She gets many balls back and makes you hit an extra ball. I think she's doing that better. She's improved her strength in doing that. There is a little more when she's on the defense. Not just the ball up in the air, but she has something on it. She gets herself back in position."

Serena on navigating her way onto the court. 
Q: When you walk onto the court and you've got the lights flashing and the fireworks, a dark arena, do you have to watch the way you're walking so you don't get lost or trip?
Serena: “No.  No.  I am old, if that's what hinting at, but I'm not that old.” (Laughter.)

Serena credited a pep talk from Patrick Mouratoglou after her loss to Halep for setting her back on the right path. What did he tell her? "You lose one match and you get so down. This is impossible. You have to be able to not think like that. It was just one match out of the whole [tournament] in the past few months you've been playing the best tennis on tour. It was just one match. I love to be perfect and I'm a perfectionist, and that's in everything I do for as long as I can remember.  I just continue to try to do that.  Sometimes it works for me I think and that's the reason why I've been able to be so good; sometimes it works against me."

Imagine how many more titles Serena might have if she had decided to play more indoor tournaments in her career. "It's one of my regrets. Like why didn't I play indoor tennis when there was more tournaments around? I think I played Zurich once and Filderstadt once. I would've been amazing in those tournaments it was so fast. It was my surface.”

If Serena's life were a movie, what genre would it be? "Right now, sorry to say, it would a big drama. It would have a lot of comedy in it as well because I'm not really a serious person off the court, but there is a lot of drama going on in there."

Agnieszka Radwanska's qualification fate rested in the hands of Wozniacki, who needed to beat Kvitova to put her good friend through. "When I saw her, she was already [like] 'I know, I know.' She knew what was going on. She wasn't surprised. I think we just going to go shopping, but with my credit card."

Fact: Serena had a karaoke system installed in her hotel room. "I sung pretty much every night. Before the Mariah Carey concert I sung most of her songs just to get ready. I didn't want to disappoint her as I screamed the lyrics to Hero."

Halep can't walk the streets in Romania without being recognized. "No, I cannot anymore. But it's not very stressed. Just some people are screaming to me, like, ‘Well done, Simona,’ or, ‘You are very good.’ Things like that."

Doubles champions Cara Black and Sania Mirza are splitting up after this year and Mirza will pair with Hseih Su-Wei, who the pair defeated (along with partner Peng Shuai) in the final. Why break up such a successful partnership? "I'm just struggling with my body a little bit. You know, there has been some matches where I haven't been able to recover for the next day. Just, yeah, so to be fair to Sania, I think it was fair for her to tell her to find somebody. I think she's found a great partner."

Any thoughts on coming back to singles, Sania? "I miss it a lot," she said. But after three surgeries her body just can't do it. "I always knew it wasn't about ability, it was more about my body. Sometimes you got to listen to nature, you know. But this just proves that it was the right decision for me. I feel like I'm playing really well. Achieved one of those goals, and I'm close enough close enough to being No. 1 now. Yeah, in hindsight it was the right decision.”

Serena had a 16-match win-streak at the WTA Finals: "They just happen. I'm aware of them because you guys make sure that I'm aware of them. So I just found out last time that I was 15 matches and I was like, ‘Oh, boy, not another streak.’ So now I'm 16 and, Gosh, here we go again. We'll see how it goes." She lost to Halep in the next match.

Here's what Bouchard learned from being in the tennis media spotlight for the season. "I've tried to enjoy it as much as possible because I know it's a good sign and it's part of the job. I knew what I was going to do signing up. If I didn't want this, maybe I could be a librarian or something instead and not be in the spotlight. There is good and bad with it. I think you can't please everyone. I think that's something I learned this year. You need to be careful with what you say and also try to be as honest a possible. It's about finding a good balance."

Wozniacki said she wouldn't recommend running a marathon to her fellow players. "I think to do it once while you're playing I think is enough. I think because I find it so exciting and so ‑‑ I'm looking forward to running, I think that also keeps me going. At the same time, it gets me in great shape. To do it year in and year out, I don't think it's possible. Our bodies get a beating already. I don't think it's necessary to do this again while I'm on tour."

Humble Halep keeps her ambitions in check for next season: "Yeah, I can say that my dream is to win a Grand Slam, but I don't know if I can next year...I want to remain in top 10 next year."

Kvitova was happy to say she didn't get struck down with illness as often this season compared to year's past, but still couldn't help but make a joke about it. "I was a little bit sick before I go to Wuhan (where she won a title), so maybe I have to repeat it, to be more sick during the year."

Bouchard's off-season plans? "I'm going to go into hibernation mode. Don't know when I'll wake up. Might be days; might be weeks. I'll keep you guys posted when I do wake up eventually. Going to eat some cookie dough, hug my little brother. That's all in my plans right now."

Wozniacki was asked to sum up her year so far. “I think I can be really proud of how I've handled everything this year, how I've fought back. You know, I think I've proved to myself that I'm a really strong person and that I can keep improving my game.  You know, I'm just really happy that I've learned so much from this year. It's been a very, very meaningful year for me and very learningful. Can you say that?”

Sharapova on why she called this photo from the draw ceremony the photo of the night: “Just because it's like a thousand words in one picture. It's incredible. Can't wait to write a book.  (Laughter.) Those are the moments where I'm like, ‘Oh, my goodness. I just wrote a whole chapter in one evening.’ Yeah, looked like a lot of fun, huh? Love those things.”

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