Flavia Pennetta has hailed Maria Sharapova, deeming her loss against the Russian as the perfect way to say goodbye to tennis.
Pennetta, who needed to win a set to qualify from the Red Group at the WTA Finals on Thursday, could not manage to defy the world number four, as Sharapova put in a superb showing to prevail 7-5 6-1 and reach the semis with a perfect record.
World number eight Pennetta enjoyed a marvellous swansong this year, winning the first grand slam of her career at the US Open, and was happy to bow out against such a professional.
"I feel really good. I'm happy to have the chance to play this tournament. I think to have the last match against Maria was amazing play such a good champion," she told reporters.
"It was a good way also to say goodbye, because when you lose against such a good player there are not too many things to say.
"Right now I feel like it's not my last match. I feel normal completely. I don't know why. Maybe in a few days I will feel more the difference. Right now it's so far so good.
"I think she [Sharapova] is one of the best of ever. She's a good person. Also like in the court, I mean, today she was perfect in so many aspects, I think - it's perfect to lose against her."
The 28-year-old Russian is seeking to win her second WTA Finals title, and is surprised at the form she has shown this week.
"I think, [I am] also a little bit surprised that I've been able to win three matches, as physical as some of those matches were," she said.
"I think knowing that I qualified allowed me to be a little bit more aggressive today."