Simona Halep outfoxed big-hitting American Madison Keys to not only become the first woman into the Wuhan semifinals, but also clinch her spot at the WTA Finals.
WTA Staff

WUHAN, China - No.4 seed Simona Halep slid past young American Madison Keys, ousting the No.8 seed, 6-4, 6-2, to reach the final four of the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, and officially qualify for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.

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"It was a great match for me," she said during her on-court interview. "I played really well; I knew she would be very tough because she's strong and serves really well. But I was moving well and I enjoyed my time on court."

Halep had won her last three encounters with Keys, including two in 2016, but twice had to battle back from an early break before finding her rhythm and using the American's power against her to hit 10 winners and 15 unforced errors. Keys, by contrast, managed 17 winners but 24 unforced errors, and found herself unable to break serve after the first set, falling in an hour and 11 minutes.

While Keys' own chances of qualifying for Singapore took a hit, Halep secured her spot by reaching the semifinals. The Romanian has made it to the WTA Finals every year since the year-end championships moved to Singapore in 2014, when she reached the final and earned her first career victory over then-World No.1 Serena Williams in round robin play; the pair met again in the final, when Williams emerged the winner.

"I knew before the match that I'd qualify if I won today. I'm really happy that I did it. It's amazing to be playing three years in a row in Singapore. I hope this year I do better than last, that I enjoy my time on court, and that I'm happy, because when I'm happy I play well."

Up next for Halep is either No.14 seed Petra Kvitova, who won a WTA classic to defeat new World No.1 Angelique Kerber, or No.11 seed Johanna Konta, who is in the hunt for Singapore and a Top 10 ranking.