Stephens, Kerber win in Red Group RR2, everything’s still open

After two rounds of round-robin play, the situation is open in both groups at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. Yesterday’s White Group matches left the qualification for the semifinals to be decided on Thursday, while today’s Red Group victories of Sloane Stephens and Angelique Kerber mean that all the four group members can still qualify for the semis on Friday.

The fifth-seeded Stephens retained a perfect 2-0 record in the Red Group, beating eighth seed Kiki Bertens after regular momentum shifts in a match that lasted two hours and 20 minutes. After the initial 3-0 lead, Stephens won the first set in a tiebreak. Bertens then made four breaks to win the second set and one more to go 2-0 in the decider, but Stephens battled back by winning six of the last seven games to claim the match 7-6(4) 2-6 6-3. Bertens’ win-loss record in the Red Group is now 1-1.

Earlier on Wednesday, Angelique Kerber won her first match in this year’s edition of the season-ending tournament, beating Naomi Osaka 6-4 5-7 6-4. The top-seeded Kerber was close to winning in straight sets, but was broken when serving at 5-4. Actually, the German faced as many as 18 break points, but saved 13 of them, including all three in the third set. Osaka is the only player in the Red Group without a single win, but she still has a chance to progress through the round-robin stage, if she wins her third match in the group (against Kiki Bertens on Friday) and if other results go her way.

Not only is the situation in both groups still open, but the first two round-robin rounds featured six three-setters, equaling the most three-set matches in round-robin stage since current format was adapted in 2003. In 2009, six out of 12 round-robin matches were decided in three sets, as reported by the WTA Insider on Twitter.

When it comes to the qualifying scenarios, the situation is quite complicated, especially in the Red Group. The WTA created this helpful table to illustrate the possible outcomes.

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