It all comes down to one blockbuster day for the Red Group on Thursday at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. Who will claim the two semifinals spots? Chris Oddo breaks down the matchups - and the qualification scenarios
Thursday, Red Group
Simona Halep is down but not out after falling to Angelique Kerber on Tuesday in Singapore. The same goes for Dominika Cibulkova, who fell to 0-2 on her WTA Finals debut with her loss to Madison Keys on Tuesday. That's the beauty of the round-robin format here in Singapore. Second chances abound, and one loss is not a death sentence. That said, time is most certainly running out for Cibulkova. The Slovakian faces the slimmest odds of anybody in the Red Group and she must defeat Halep in straight sets to have any hopes of reaching the semifinals. But the Slovakian isn't worried too much about the scenarios - she just wants a win and the pride that goes with it.
"I am hoping to win a match, I will do everything to win a match here this year," she told reporters on Tuesday.
Halep's chances are considerably better, but there's still work to do. The Romanian automatically qualifies with a straight-sets win and could even qualify with a three-set loss if Kerber also wins. But like Cibulkova, Halep simply wants to play better tennis than she did on Tuesday during her straight-sets loss to Kerber.
"I didn't finish the important points and I missed a lot today," she lamented on Tuesday after falling to Kerber for the third time this season.
The 2014 WTA Finals runner-up is hopeful that she can put her best foot forward in her sixth lifetime meeting against Cibulkova.
"I feel always when I play against her that I can finish the points so I have to be aggressive, do my style and just be there for every point," she said, adding: "I have another chance to qualify for the semis so I am just looking forward to play another match, to give my best, to play better than today, and to fight."
Pick: Cibulkova in three
Madison Keys won the match she had to win on Tuesday when she eased past Dominika Cibulkova in straight sets, but the American has lots of heavy lifting left to do if she plans to reach the semis on her Singapore debut. A straight-sets loss to her longtime nemesis Angelique Kerber would mean elimination for Keys, but there are still several ways she can qualify for the semis if she defeats Kerber, or even if she simply takes a set. Keys has lost all eight sets she has played against Kerber on hardcourts, so the 21-year-old will have to come up with something special on Thursday, or else.
"She's always tough to play, she's even tougher to play on a slower court," Keys said of the challenge of facing the World No.1 with so much at stake.
With the memory of a heartbreaking loss at the Olympics to Kerber still fresh in her mind, Keys plans to grip it and rip it as often as she can, so that there are no regrets.
"I think also playing with nothing to lose is going to be a huge thing," she told reporters. "Luckily the court is a little bit faster than it was in Rio."
Kerber is looking to finish a season of highs on yet another high note, and she is full of confidence after winning her first two matches at Singapore.
"Of course I have much more confidence right now because I know how to win very big matches and tight matches," she said after taking out Simona Halep in straight sets on Tuesday. "I know what to do, to go for it and just take the game in my hands. Of course I believe much more in myself." Will Kerber march into the semis undefeated or can Keys throw a wrench in her plans by notching what would be a monumental upset?
Pick: Kerber in three
Red Group Semifinal Qualification Scenarios: Thursday's scenarios are complex, so we've bundled them all into this handy little cheat sheet.
? WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) October 25, 2016
Doubles on Tap: The single elimination doubles draw will kick off on Thursday in Singapore with two enticing matchups. Top-seeded Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic will face Karolina Pliskova and Julia Goerges in the first match of the day, and No.3-seeded Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova will face off with Timea Babos and Yaroslava Shvedova in Thursday's final match. Pliskova and Goerges are making their WTA Finals double debut; all other players in action on Thursday have made one previous appearance at the WTA Finals.
By the Numbers:
6 - Number of times a player has lost a round-robin match and gone on to win the WTA Finals title. It has happened in each of the last two years.
1 - Number of times a player has won the WTA Finals with a 1-2 round-robin record. It happened last year when Agnieszka Radwanska won the title.
14 - Number of times a WTA player has reached the 60-win mark in the last ten years. Kerber became No. 14 on Sunday and stretched her 2016 win total to 61 on Tuesday with her win over Halep.