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Williams bounces back with win over Bouchard

WORLD number one Serena Williams has rarely suffered a humiliating loss in her glittering career, so the 33-year-old American was quick to praise her coach for dragging her out of the pit of despair to return to winning ways.

A day after she was thrashed by Simona Halep in round-robin play at the WTA Finals in Singapore, Williams was back to her brilliant best in handing out a 6-1 6-1 drubbing of Canada's Eugenie Bouchard yesterday to close in on a semi-finals berth.

The 18-times grand slam champion admitted she felt her tournament was over after Halep dismantled her game so ruthlessly but thanked coach Patrick Mouratoglou for giving her advice and the motivation to give her all back out on court.

The Frenchman's advice worked wonders as Williams steamrollered through Bouchard's serve to claim victory in just 59 minutes.

Now Halep can do the American a favour if she takes a set off Ana Ivanovic in the final Red Group tie today. Should Ivanovic fail to win in straight sets, the world number one will advance to a semi-final she felt was out of her grasp until her coach gave her the confidence to beat Bouchard so convincingly.

"He told me that I didn't have the same attitude that I normally have when I approach a match," Williams said of the Halep encounter.

"Things that I did wrong and things that I could have done better. And then I think his belief was really key, because I was feeling mighty low.

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

Maria Sharapova's bid to end the year ranked number one was left hanging by a thread after she suffered a second straight defeat at the WTA Finals.

The only woman capable of leapfrogging Serena Williams for the top spot, Sharapova was beaten 6-3 6-2 by Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova at Singapore's Indoor Stadium.

Sharapova still has a slim mathematical chance of finishing number one but has to go on and win the title -- and has to rely on other results to go her way just to reach the semis.