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Serena rebounds from WTA shellacking

SINGAPORE — Serena Williams awoke on Thursday dreading playing tennis. By the end of the day, her doubts were defeated and she was still in the running for a third straight WTA Finals crown.

Following the worst beating of her professional career on Wednesday, when she won only two games against Simona Halep, it took hours of cajoling and encouragement from coach Patrick Mouratoglou to get Williams in the right frame of mind for her last round-robin contest against Eugenie Bouchard.

Whatever he said worked, as she routed Bouchard 6-1, 6-1.

"I was feeling mighty low," Williams said. "I was able to feed off his belief. I know that sounds weird, even though I've won so many titles, I still at some point feel like, 'Oh gosh, maybe I might not be able to do this or maybe I might not be able to do that?'

"I started to believe that maybe I could come play another match. I wasn't quite sure that I could.

"I definitely don't think that I would have been able to survive today if it wasn't for Patrick."

Williams improved her record to 2-1, and will have to wait until today's match between Halep and Ana Ivanovic to know if she is through to the semifinals. Williams will make the final four unless Ivanovic beats Halep in straight sets. Halep is guaranteed of a semifinal berth.

Meanwhile, the outcome of the other group remains uncertain, with none of the four players qualified for the semis, and none eliminated from contention.

Petra Kvitova beat Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-2, further eroding the Russian player's hopes of claiming the year-end No. 1 ranking.

Sharapova, who needs to win the title and rely on Williams not reaching the final if she is to bump the American from the top spot, fell to a 0-2 record while Kvitova is 1-1.

In order for Sharapova to progress to the semis, she will need to win her last match against Agnieszka Radwanska and rely on Caroline Wozniacki beating Kvitova, and have both matches decided in straight sets.

Williams was philosophical about whether she will make the semis.

"If I wanted to win and be a part of the event, I should have won my match yesterday or should have done better," Williams said. "If I don't qualify, I'll be sad, but it wasn't my year. I'm not going to fall out and die."