2016 China Open – Madison Keys in Semifinals

The American is looking to lock her place in the year-end WTA Tour Finals event.

Madison Keys won a tight match on Friday at the 2016 China Open in Beijing. The American drew Petra Kvitova, last week’s champion from Wuhan, in the quarterfinals. In a back-and-forth match, Keys defeated Kvitova by the minimum two points in a deciding third-set tiebreaker 6-3, 6-7, 7-6.

Keys has done a lot better in tight matches in 2016. The last time Kvitova and Keys played a three setter was atΒ New Haven 2015. That was a day that belonged to the Czech player however Friday was different.

“I think it’s that confidence of knowing ‘Don’t panic, you can do this,'” Keys told WTA Insider. “I think the biggest thing is knowing that those thoughts of panic are probably going to go into your brain and just accepting it. So that’s been the biggest thing. Not fighting it and trying to think I’m going to have the perfect mentality the entire time. That’s not going to happen. So just knowing it and accepting it has been a huge thing for me.”

Other quarterfinal winners on Friday included Agnieszka Radwanska, Elina Svitolina, and Johanna Konta. Radwanska and Svitolina will meet in the top half’s semifinal while Konta and Keys will battle it out on the bottom half of the draw. The result of the latter match will not only produce the finalist for Beijing, however it will also provide a major advantage in the race for Singapore.

The top eight players from 2016 are guaranteed entry into the year-end WTA Tour Finals. Players who finish just lower than that may still gain entry, however they will only do so as alternates. On live rankings (ie. including results this week) Madison Keys sits in 7th place while Konta sits on the bubble in 6th place. Wedged between the two is Dominika Cibulkova.

If Keys defeats Konta in Beijing then she will nearly be guaranteed a spot in the year-end event. If it’s the Brit that wins on Saturday then Konta would surpass Cibulkova for eighth spot.

However, there is a fairly good chance that all three players will make the year-end event. World No. 2 Serena Williams hasn’t played a match since losing in the US Open semifinals.

Her playing status for Singapore isn’t clear so perhaps whoever finishes 9th in the race will get into the tournament. Carla Suarez Navarro, who currently sits 10th year-to-date, needs to do really well in the weeks ahead if she is to challenge for an entry.

The Konta/Keys match will be played on Saturday at 2:30pm in Beijing. On head-to-heads, Keys leads the series 1-0 however there isn’t much to read in that stat. The two players last played in 2010 but each player has improved drastically since that match took place.


Shane Lambert