"I'm feeling very good here", Kerber said afterwards.
Debutante Keys is guaranteed to advance to the semi-finals if she beats Kerber in straight sets; Kerber can only miss out if that occurs and Halep also wins in two. The awkward, did-I-really-just-do-that blushes that accompanied her breakthrough win at this year's Australian Open have given way to a realization she finally belongs at the top.
Nishikori, losing finalist to Roger Federer in 2011, played a controlled power game to earn a place in the second round, breaking open the second set after a tight first against the world No. 77.
"But she played a great tennis".
Aggressive play from Kerber at the start of the match saw her break the Romanian in the opening game, but the latter forced errors off the Kerber racket to get back on serve. So that was my plan and I think it works well.
"Swing out of your shoes", Halep's coach, Darren Cahill, told his protégé as she trailed 4-1 in the second set. "I won two grand slams. that's why I believe much more in myself right now".
In the second Red Group encounter, Keys defeated No.7 seed Cibulkova 6-1, 6-4 for a 1-1 sheet, as the victory marked the first win for Keys, who made her debut in WTA Finals here in Singapore.
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The Romanian, however, was showing more patience and opted to keep Kerber pinned on the baseline rather than going for winners, the strategy paying off as she worked her angles beautifully to break back then hold to love for a 4-3 lead. I won so many good matches this year.
SINGAPORE (AP) - Top-seeded Angelique Kerber is the only player in the WTA Finals Red Group to stand at 2-0 in the round-robin stage after a 6-4, 6-2 win over Simona Halep on Tuesday.
The trappings of being the world's best female tennis player are starting to feel normal for Angelique Kerber.
Regardless, Halep acknowledges she will have to produce a far more polished display in order to stand a chance.
Halep was struggling to contain Kerber's main weapon, her whipped forehand, and while the world No. 4's athleticism and speed around the court kept her in the rallies, the German left-hander continued to dictate the early exchanges.
The 28-year-old, who has never progressed past the group stage of the event for the top eight available female players in the world rankings, looks nearly certain to seal one of the two semi-final places on offer. If Halep goes three sets, meaning Cibulkova wins one set, Kerber is through as well. "I will do everything to win a match this year", said Cibulkova.
At 28, Kerber is the oldest woman to get to No. 1 for the first time but considers herself one of the lucky ones.