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Keys vs Wang tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Can Keys beat new and improved Wang in Zhuhai?

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 1 Nov 2018
  • Madison Keys takes on Wang Qiang at the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai on Friday
  • Keys vs Wang is live from Zhuhai on Friday at 7pm local/11am GMT
Madison Keys (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Can Madison Keys stay unbeaten vs Wang Qiang and make the WTA Elite Trophy semifinals for the first time in Zhuhai on Friday?

Madison Keys has a perfect record against Wang Qiang – but she’s yet to face the new and improved Chinese player. The two clash in the final round-robin match of the Azalea Group at the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai.

Coming into the final day of round-robin play in Zhuhai, it’s still all to play for in the Azalea Group at the second-tier season-ending championships. Top seed Daria Kasatkina lost to Keys in straight sets but beat Wang in three, meaning that Keys can guarantee progression to the semifinals by beating Wang in straight sets. Any other outcome means that the progression to the semifinals will be decided by proportions of sets/games won between the three players.

Madison Keys (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Keys is playing in Zhuhai for the second time after having failed to make it out of her group on her first outing in 2015, and with the American deciding that her injured knee is too much of a risk to put herself forward for selection for the USA’s team for the Fed Cup final, failing once more to make it out of the round-robin stages will definitively end her season. 

It’s been a mixed bag of a season for the American, who had her best results at the Grand Slams, going 16-4 with semifinal appearances at the French and US Opens and a quarterfinal showing at the Australian Open. Outside the four majors, however, Keys was just 13-9, dogged by injury and inconsistency, and only reached one semifinal at a regular WTA Tour event – Charleston in April.

Injuries, to which the American is sadly prone, have certainly played their role in the vicissitudes of Keys’s season, but so has attitude – which is why it was great to see Keys so keen to take the ball (and her opponent) on as she faced Daria Kasatkina in her Zhuhai opener on Wednesday. The world no. 16, hit five aces and landed 75% of her first serves in the 70-minute match, and although she conceded three breaks herself, she succeeded in breaking six times on her way to a 6-2, 6-4 victory which preserved her perfect record against the Russian.

‘I think I had a really good start today and that definitely helped me. Even a pretty good start in the second set. I think I served well. I think there was a little bit of a lull in the second set, but overall I was happy with that,’ Keys said afterwards.

‘I think I returned really well, which is something I've been focusing on. Overall, I think I played really solid and went out and did what I needed to do.’

Keys also has an unbeaten record against her next opponent Wang Qiang – but she will know that the woman who faces her across the net is a very different, and much more intimidating, opponent than the one she’s confronted before. 

Wang Qiang  (Photo by Kevin Lee/Getty Images)
Wang Qiang did not win the WTA award for Most Improved Player of the year – that went to Kiki Bertens – but she was nominated, and rightly so. The Chinese player, who started 2018 at world no. 45, was down to world no. 85 by the time the French Open started, but she comes into Zhuhai ranked at a career-high world no. 22 – success that was almost entirely built on Asian hard courts, although Wang did make the round of 16 at Indian Wells in March. 

The 26-year-old Chinese player not only successfully defended her Asian Games gold medal, but won the first WTA Tour singles title of her career in Nanchang in July. After reaching the third round of the US Open, Wang returned to Asian hard courts and put together a 19-4 run which saw her claim a second title in Guangzhou; finish runner-up to Dayana Yastremska in Hong Kong; reach the semifinals in Hiroshima; and make back-to-back semifinals at the Premier-5 Wuhan Open and the Premier Mandatory China Open in Beijing, beating Karolina Pliskova (twice), Jelena Ostapenko and Aryna Sabalenka at the latter. 

It was an incredible run that showcased Wang as a force to be reckoned with, and saw her qualify for the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai – the first time that the tournament has had two Chinese players in the 12-player field. 

In her opening match, Wang fell in three sets to Kasatkina, but it was a close-run thing, with the Russian eventually edging the third set 7-5.

Keys and Wang played twice in the early months of 2018, with both matches going Keys’s way with similar scorelines: 6-1, 7-5 for the American at the Australian Open, 6-1, 6-4 in Doha. 

‘I've actually played her twice already this year, but I expect the match to be completely different this time around. She's had an incredible, like, six weeks, seven weeks. I think she's probably really high in confidence and feeling her game,’ said Keys.

‘I'm probably not even going to watch the matches that I played her and more focus on the last couple of weeks for her and see what she's doing well and hopefully play well enough to get through.’

The bad news for Keys is that there’s a plethora of things that Wang is doing well. The good news is that none of them will make much difference if the American delivers a powerful, aggressive, accurate performance on Friday to see herself through to the semifinals in Zhuhai.

Keys vs Wang WTA Elite Trophy round-robin tennis is live from Zhuhai on Friday at 7pm local/11am GMT

*Geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify

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Keys vs Wang tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Can Keys beat new and improved Wang in Zhuhai?

Madison Keys vs Wang Qiang live streaming, preview and predictions for the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai round-robin match on Friday 2 November: Keys must win in straight sets to guarantee progression to the semifinals

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