Simona Halep cruises in Wuhan to seal place at WTA Finals in Singapore

Simona Halep books her place at the 2016 WTA Finals in Singapore

Marianne Bevis
By Marianne Bevis

Simona Halep, who stands at No3 on the road to the WTA Finals in Singapore next month, has continued her seamless progress at the Wuhan Open Premier tournament to reach the semi-finals.

The No4 seed’s win over No8 seed Madison Keys was the third in a row in which she conceded no more than six games, a 6-4, 6-2, 69-minute victory, and it sealed her place at the prestigious season-ending WTA Finals.

That marks the Romanian’s third consecutive appearance at the Singapore tournament, where she will join Angelique Kerber and Serena Williams.

Halep is one of four players to win three WTA titles during 2016, including the Premier Mandatory in Madrid, followed by a strong US Open Series run to win the Montreal Premier, make the semis in Cincinnati and the quarters in New York.

Halep reached the final in Singapore in 2014, where she beat Williams in the round-robin phase before losing out to the American in the title match. Last year, though, she did not make it past the opening phase.

She said of qualifying this year: “It means a lot to qualify… it was one of my goals this year. It will be my third time in a row competing at the WTA Finals and I hope I play great. I have great memories from 2014 and am confident I can do well again. I will be very focused.”

The WTA Finals bring together the top eight singles players and top eight doubles teams for a share of a $7 million purse. Next in line to qualify is Singapore’s defending champion, Agnieszka Radwanska, who can confirm her place if she wins the Wuhan final.

No5 in the race, Karolina Pliskova, could have qualified by reaching the final, but lost to Dominika Cibulkova in a delayed third-round match.

However, with 1,000 points on offer to the winner in the biggest Asian-swing tournament next week, there is plenty of room for movement in the current standings.

Current rankings in Race

1 Angelique Kerber (qualified)
2 Serena Williams (qualified)
3 Simona Halep (qualified)
4 Agnieszka Radwanska (qualifies with Wuhan title)
5 Karolina Pliskova
6 Garbine Muguruza
7 Dominika Cibulkova
8 Carla Suarez Navarro

9 Madison Keys
10 Johanna Konta
11 Svetlana Kuznetsova
12 Timea Bacsinzsky

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