Madison Keys (USA #9) vs. Duan Ying-Ying (CHN #90)
Head-to-head: First meeting
Key Stat: Keys opens the week with an 86-point advantage over Carla Suárez Navarro for 8th place in the RTS leaderboard.
Madison Keys is trying to battle through the fatigue of a long 2016 season in China with the carrot of qualification at this year's BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global dangling in front of her. A few more big wins and Keys could be scratching "WTA Finals appearance" off her bucket list. The 21-year-old, who will bid for her 40th win of the season on Sunday against China's Duan Ying-Ying, is keeping her eyes on the prize.
"I'm definitely trying just to hit the finish line," she said after bowing out in the quarterfinals at Wuhan to Simona Halep. "You know, it's been a really long year. This is kind of the first time that I've ever been in this much of a stressful situation. Trying to qualify for Singapore, that's my main goal right now."
Duan, a 27-year-old playing at a career-high ranking of 90, has dropped all six sets she has played against Top 10 competition. She is making her main draw debut in Beijing.
Pick: Keys in two
One of the more compelling comeback stories of 2016 belongs to China's Zhang Shuai. The 27-year-old Tianjin native snapped an 0-14 skid at majors, winning her first Grand Slam main draw match at this year's Australian Open, and turned it into a quarterfinal run. The magic didn't stop there. Zhang has been a solid performer at the tour-level all season, amassing a 4-5 record against the Top 20 (she was 3-25 previously) and notching a career-best 21 tour-level match wins. Stosur, who comes in on a two-match losing streak, has not been in top form since the clay season. The Aussie has gone 7-9 since reaching the Roland Garros semifinals, and she has split two meetings with Zhang this season, defeating her at Roland Garros and then falling to her at the US Open.
Pick: Stosur in three
Former World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki has salvaged her season with a torrid tear that took her to the semifinals of the US Open and earned her the Toray Pan Pacific title in Tokyo. Now, the 27-year-old Dane will look to put the cherry on top of what has been a remarkable return to relevance in China. She'll open affairs with hard-hitting, hard-serving CoCo Vandeweghe in Sunday's final match at the National Tennis Stadium. Vandeweghe comes in with an 0-1 record against Wozniacki and she hasn't been in good form of late. She has dropped four straight matches on tour, and five of six. The American is bidding for her first match win at Beijing and to do it she'll have to get past a rejuvenated Wozniacki that is playing with belief and aggression. With several nagging injuries finally behind her, 2010 China Open champion Wozniacki has been a resilient competitor in recent weeks?she has won each of her last four deciders and five of her last six dating back to the Olympics.
Pick: Wozniacki in two
Around the Grounds: Will No.3-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska be the next player to book a Singapore bid? There are a number of scenarios that will see her through. The 2011 champion owns a 20-7 lifetime record in Beijing that includes a runner-up performance in 2009 as well as semifinal appearances in 2013 and 2015. She'll face Chinese wild card Wang Qiang in round one. Also in action on Sunday will be Johanna Konta, who makes her main draw debut against Anastasija Sevastova, and Jelena Jankovic, who faces Kristina Mladenovic for the first time.
By the Numbers:
4 - Number of current and former No.1s in the draw (Jankovic, Wozniacki, Venus Williams, Kerber).
19 - Age of youngest player remaining in the draw, Switzerland's Belinda Bencic.
5 - Number of former Beijing champions in draw (Muguruza, Radwanska, Wozniacki, Jankovic, Kuznetsova).