Maria Sharapova edged out Simona Halep in a thrilling round-robin clash at the WTA Finals in Singapore.
The Russian has long been the scourge of Halep, having won all of the pair’s five previous meetings.
Sharapova eventually made it six at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, having been made to sweat in a 6-4 6-4 triumph that lasted nearly two hours.
The match started evenly enough as they traded blows until 4-4 in the first set – a point when world number four Sharapova upped her game, winning seven of the next eight games.
However, rather than collapse number one seed Halep rallied impressively and closed the gap to 5-4, before one last break saw her defeated.
“It definitely got really tough,” Sharapova, who has now won two out of two in the Red Group, said in the post-match interview.
“I guess those are the moments you have to get through when you haven’t played in a long time, and against the number two player in the world these matches don’t come easy.
“It definitely showed until the end.”
Earlier in the day, Flavia Pennetta recovered from Sunday’s defeat to Halep by securing a straight-sets win against Agnieszka Radwanska.
The US Open finalist found herself 5-3 down in the first set, but came back to take the set and then the match, coming through 7-6 (7/5) 6-4.
“I tried to be really focused, tried to hit the ball hard, be aggressive and not give her too much time to do her job,” Pennetta said.
“I mean, she plays unbelievable, she can let you run for hours all over the court, so you need to be really aggressive with her.”
Radwanska’s second group defeat means she is struggling to qualify for the semi-finals but all four players still have a chance of reaching the last four going into Thursday’s final set of pool matches.