Quarterfinal action begins on Thursday in Wuhan with a pair of Top 10 clashes headlining the bill. Chris Oddo previews the matchups right here at wtatennis.com.
Round of 16 and Quarterfinals
On Wednesday Simona Halep braved difficult conditions and cruised past hard-hitting Yaroslava Shvedova to reach the quarterfinals for the first time in Wuhan. On Thursday she'll look to lock up a Singapore bid when she faces No.8-seeded Madison Keys for the third time this season. Halep has given the American nightmares in their 2016 meetings, forcing Keys into longer rallies and negating the American's lethal serve. In their last match, Halep won 49 percent of the points against Keys' first serve and broke the American five times. Halep comes in to the pair's fifth overall meeting with confidence, having dropped just three of her last 23 matches.
"I've played really well this year and I'm really happy with the way I played in the big tournaments," she said on Wednesday. "I feel good here and that I have a chance to play until the end."
Keys wants to focus on her game and let the chips fall where they may against the Romanian.
"I mean, she's always tough," the 21-year-old said of Halep after defeating Daria Kasatkina in three sets on Wednesday. "I definitely don't think I played my best tennis in Montreal where we played last. I think I was thinking 'I want to win this match,' instead of doing what I needed to do process-wise. I think focusing a lot on just what I need to do, how I need to play, is going to be a big thing."
Keys, who improved to 15-6 in deciders this season with her win, can bolster her Singapore hopes with a victory as well. She began the tournament just one point out of the No.8 spot, which is currently held by Carla Suárez Navarro.
Pick: Halep in three
Fresh off a grueling three hour and 20-minute victory over World No.1 Angelique Kerber, Petra Kvitova will hope for a quick recovery so that she may use some of the confidence gained from her biggest win of the season on Thursday when she meets Johanna Konta for a spot in the semifinals. Kvitova says the win over Kerber has given her clear proof that she still has that je ne sais quoi that once made her one of the most daunting power players in the game.
"From Montreal I just feel better on the court," Kvitova said on Wednesday after winning for the 17th time in her last 22 matches. "I am just really trying to find myself. This match probably showed me a lot about how good I can play again and how I do feel inside and how I can still be strong mentally. I think these are very good signs."
If there's one big advantage for British No.1 Johanna Konta on Thursday, it's that she was able to conserve some energy during her straight-sets win over Carla Suárez Navarro on Wednesday. Konta saved six set points in the second set to notch her fifth Top 10 win of the season. "I was fully prepared to obviously play a third if need be," said Konta after the match. Will Kvitova recover in time to avenge her loss (and third-set bagel) to Konta earlier this season at Eastbourne or will it be Konta who adds another impressive victory to her 2016 cache?
Pick: Kvitova in three
Svetlana Kuznetsova confidently knocked off defending champion Venus Williams in straight sets on Wednesday, and the Russian is looking very much like she is ready to make a run at qualifying for the 2016 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. The 31-year-old Russian, less than 400 points out of contention for the last Singapore slot, notched her third Top 10 win of the season and improved to 34-17 in 2016. She had pep in her step from start to finish on Wednesday and will head into her 16th career meeting with Radwanska with burgeoning belief.
"I've been confident and I've been playing well," she said after defeating Williams in 70 minutes behind five of six break points saved.
But the same could be said of her opponent on Thursday, World No.4 Agnieszka Radwanska. The Pole snapped Caroline Wozniacki's seven-match win streak on Wednesday with a straight sets takedown, and Radwanska says she's happy to be feeling fresh at a time when many other players are worn-down after a grueling Grand Slam season.
"I didn't play as much as the other years," Radwanska said when describing how she has learned over time to pace herself for the WTA's Asian swing. "That is really helping."
But Radwanska will need more than fitness to erase a rough run of form against Kuznetsova. She has lost six of seven against the Russian, and 11 of 15 overall.
Pick: Kuznetsova in three
Around the Grounds: Held over from Wednesday due to rain were two round of 16 matchups. No.5-seeded Karolina Pliskova will square off with No.10-seeded Dominika Cibulkova in the first match on Court 1, while Jelena Jankovic will face Barbora Strycova in the first match on Centre Court. The winner of these two matches will meet in Thursday's fourth quarterfinal, which will be the final match of the night session. See Thursday's complete order of play here.