ZHUHAI, China -- China's top-ranked player Wang Qiang engineered an emphatic comeback win over No.6 seed Madison Keys of the United States in the final round-robin match at the Hengqin Life WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai on Friday, emerging victorious by the scoreline of 1-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Nevertheless, by virtue of pushing the match to three sets, World No.16 Keys won the Azalea Group in the process to reach the semifinals. The American will play Camellia Group winner Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain in the final four. Fellow group winners Ashleigh Barty of Australia and Julia Goerges of Germany will face off in the other Zhuhai semifinal.
After losing her first two meetings against Keys, both having taken place this year, World No.22 Wang claimed victory after 93 minutes of play. She improved her fabulous record in China this season to 18-4, which includes her first two WTA singles titles in Nanchang and Guangzhou.
"I've never won over Keys and this time I won her," Wang told the media, during her post-match press conference. "So if my season can continue my performance like this, I think I can get better and better."
"[In] the first set, she was going very strong against me," Wang added. "Whenever have a ball that was very slow or shallow, then she got the opportunity to attack me. I didn't find a very good approach to go against her. However, later her performance was declining and I got the opportunity to attack her back."
— WTA (@WTA) November 2, 2018
In the opening frame, the American completely dominated, using a plethora of stunning forehand winners and extravagant service returns to completely dismantle the Wang game en route to a commanding 5-0 lead. Wang had to fend off a break point in to avert the bagel before surviving a tough game to get on the scoreboard at 5-1.
But Keys was undeterred after giving up a game, slamming her first ace of the match to reach triple set point, and converting her first opportunity with a screaming forehand crosscourt passing winner. Keys took 10 of Wang's 11 second-service points in the set.
A netted backhand by Wang in the third game of the second set handed Keys a set-and-a-break advantage, but the American faltered for the first time all day in her attempt to consolidate, misfiring on her forehand to get broken and put the set back level at 2-2.
Keys reclaimed the break in the next game, but shockingly failed to consolidate for 4-2 from 40-0 up, as her errors mounted. With the crowd behind her at 3-3, Wang upped her game, crafting clever points which she finished with punishing backhands to hold for 4-3 and stop the run of service breaks.
— WTA (@WTA) November 2, 2018
Suddenly, it was Wang who had fully claimed the momentum, as the Chinese No.1 broke an error-prone Keys for the third consecutive time to lead 5-3 and serve for the set. In that game, Keys saved one break point with a forehand winner down the line, but Wang took the set on her second chance after a Keys forehand service return flew long.
Wang continued her impressive fightback in the decider. The Chinese player broke Keys at love to open the third set, fended off two break points to consolidate for 2-0, and then broke serve again with a searing return to open up a dominant 3-0, double-break lead.
Keys finally got on the board at 4-1 and grasped one more chance to turn the match around by holding two break points in that game, but Wang evaded them, and held for 5-1 with two straight forehand winners. Wang them ended the match with two consecutive winning service returns, for her ninth Top 20 win of the season.