Kicking off the WTA Finals round-robin action, third seed Simona Halep humbled tournament debutante Madison Keys with a straightforward 6-2 6-4 victory in the Red Group.
The first set was over in less than half an hour, as the 21-year-old Keys never recovered from an early break, while Halep was always strong in her service games. In the second set, Keys was again the first one to drop serve, but this time, helped by guidance from her coach Thomas Hogstedt, the American stepped into the baseline on Halep’s second serve and broke the Romanian to tie the set at 4-4. Still, the match favorite, rocking Adidas’ 2016 masterpiece mesh shorts, skillfully responded immediately, earning a rebreak and then holding her serve for the victory.
The most revealing match stat is that Keys made 41 unforced errors, not at all counterbalanced by her 16 winners. Halep’s differential was also not positive, but it was way better: five winners to 12 unforced errors. Also, Halep earned as many as ten break points, converting four.
Owing to the unique format of the WTA Finals, it’s not over for the disappointed Keys, as she’ll get a second chance in the encounters with Dominika Cibulkova, against whom she has a 3-0 head-to-head record, and world No.1 Angelique Kerber, whom she’s defeated once in their six matches. (photos: Jimmie48)