Sharapova's WTA title hope and No. 1 chance over
Maria Sharapova's hopes of winning the WTA Finals and claiming the year-end No. 1 ranking both ended on Friday despite a three-set victory over Agnieszka Radwanska.
Sharapova needed to win in straight sets to have any chance of progressing in the tournament, and had to win the title if she was to overtake Serena Williams at the top of the rankings.
Sharapova won the first set but collapsed from a 5-1 lead in the second set and lost it in a tiebreak. The Russian claimed the third to win 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-2 in over three hours.
Radwanska would still qualify for the semifinals despite a 1-2 group-stage record if Caroline Wozniacki beat Petra Kvitova late Friday.
The result of the early match meant Wozniacki was guaranteed of a semifinal berth.
Williams takes the year-end top ranking for the fourth time, beside 2002, 2009 and 2013.
In the rankings era beginning in 1975, only five players have held the No. 1 spot at year's end four times or more. The others were Steffi Graf (eight times), Martina Navratilova (seven), Chris Evert (five) and Lindsay Davenport (four).
The outcome of the Wozniacki-Kvitova match will determine the semifinal placings and seedings. If Kvitova wins, she will finish atop her group with Wozniacki as runner-up. If Wozniacki wins, she tops the group, with Radwanska in second.
Also late Friday, Simona Halep faced Ana Ivanovic to complete their group. Halep will finish top and Williams runner-up, unless Ivanovic wins in straight sets, in which case the Serb and Halep will advance, with the order to be determined by percentage of games won through the tournament.
Sharapova will be left to rue an unforeseeable collapse from a dominant position in the second set against Radwanska, with the Polish player saving three match points as she won five straight games.
The Russian converted only two of six break points in that set, against two of three by Radwanska. For the match, Sharapova had a 61-12 advantage in winners, but committed 63 unforced errors against just 17 by the Pole.