World number five Simona Halep downed Madison Keys in the quarter finals of the Wuhan Open Thursday to book her place in the elite season-end WTA Final for the third consecutive year.
Big serving Keys took an early lead in the first set, breaking the Romanian’s serve twice, but was unable to maintain the momentum as Halep equalled and then took the set 6-4.
Halep -- who turned 25 this week -- dropped just two games to take the second set and confirm her place in the eight-player season finale in Singapore.
Only world number one Angelique Kerber and Serena Williams have so far qualified for the highly lucrative tournament, and the field remains wide open for the remaining five spots.
Keys, 21, rose to a career-high ranking of nine after winning her second career title in June -- making her the first American other than the Williams’ sisters to make the top 10 in more than a decade.
She was knocked out of her next two tournaments by Halep before just missing out on a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics when she lost to two time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.
Halep will meet either Kvitova or Briton Johanna Konta in the semi-finals on Friday.