WTA FINALS

Kerber completes perfect sweep to reach semi-finals

The world number one beat Madison Keys in straight sets to advance to the last four with a round-robin stage record of three victories Nadal vs Thiem

Kerber completes perfect sweep to reach semi-finals
EDGAR SU REUTERS

Angelique Kerber eased into the last four of the WTA Finals with an unbeaten record when the world number one thrashed Madison Keys 6-3 6-3 in the Red Group finale at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Thursday.

Cibulkova through to last four

The 28-year-old German won all three of her round robin matches and her straight sets triumph over Keys ensured Dominika Cibulkova would join her in the semi-finals after the Slovak had earlier ground out a 6-3 7-6(5) victory over Simona Halep.

Kerber has enjoyed a breakout season with grand slam victories at the Australian and U.S. Opens, and her baseline hustling and resilient defence proved far too strong for an erratic Keys, who was broken six times in nine service games.

"Incredible feeling"

"It's always tough to play against Madison so I was focused on playing my best and going for it when I had the chance," Kerber said. "I moved and returned well and it feels incredible to be in the semi-finals for a first time."

The first set featured five consecutive service breaks before the German took control by neutralising Keys's powerful forehand.

Kerber staved off another break point in eighth game to edge 5-3 ahead and the German claimed the first set when Keys was unable to hold serve for a fourth straight time.

The American's high-risk aggressive game is vulnerable against a defensive master like Kerber but after hitting too many unforced errors in the first set, Keys found her range at the start of the second to open a 2-0 lead with an early break.

Her revival was short-lived, however, as the tenacious Kerber stepped up another level to reel off five straight games and set up an ultimately routine victory.

Kerber will face either defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska or Karolina Pliskova, a rematch of last month's US Open final, in Saturday's semi-finals while Cibulkova is set for a showdown against White Group winner Svetlana Kuznetsova.

After losing round robin matches to Kerber and Keys, the Slovak needed a straight-sets win to have any chance of advancing. She stayed alive with a determined display before the German world number one completed a perfect day for Cibulkova.