Zhuhai: Keys, Sabalenka, Muguruza seeking semis

Published by Matt Trollope

Madison Keys in action at the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai; Getty Images
Big guns Madison Keys, Aryna Sabalenka, Garbine Muguruza will play their final round-robin matches in Zhuhai on Friday, hoping to join defending champion Julia Goerges in the semifinals.

Madison Keys and Aryna Sabalenka are well positioned to clinch their places in the last four of the WTA Elite Trophy.

The semifinal line-up will be completed on Friday night in Zhuhai after the final three round-robin matches are played.

Garbine Muguruza is another player hoping to qualify; if the two-time major champion beats Anastasija Sevastova – who beat Zhang Shuai 6-0 7-6(10) on Thursday – then she will finish undefeated in the Camellia Group and reach the semis. Sevastova advances if she beats Muguruza.

Those in action will be hoping to join defending champion Julia Goerges, who clinched her semifinal place with a 6-2 7-6(5) win over Elise Mertens.

Mertens needed to win a single set to secure her progression, but Goerges’ straight-sets win ensured she would be advancing ahead of the Belgian.

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Mertens led 3-1, 4-2 and 5-3 in the second set but despite recovering from 0-40 and three match points down in the 12th game, she was unable to clinch the set she needed.

“I played to win. That’s how I’ve grown up and that’s my mentality. If I miss, I miss, but it’s up to me and not everyone else,” said Goerges, who belted a backhand down the line on match point to force an error from Mertens.

Keys, a former world No.7 and US Open finalist, simply needs to win a set against Wang Qiang on Friday to progress. Wang must beat Keys in straight sets to be the one who advances from the Azalea Group.

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In-form Sabalenka, too, requires just a single set against Caroline Garcia to ensure her qualification. If she loses in straight sets, the group standings will be determined on the number of games won and lost by Sabalenka, Garcia and Ash Barty, the third member of the Orchid Group.

“It’s out of my hands,” Barty said after beating Garcia 6-3 6-4 on Thursday.

“I’ll just have to sit back and watch tomorrow and worry about whether we’re here for an extra day or not. I’m certainly pleased with the year that we’ve had and really nice to finish on a positive note today.”

If Keys and Sabalenka win on Friday, they top their respective round-robin groups with undefeated 2-0 records.

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