Simona Halep vs Madison Keys live streaming, preview and tips: Halep targets sixth straight win over fellow Rome finalist Keys at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia

Hannah Wilks in WTA 17 May 2018
  • Top seed Simona Halep takes on Madison Keys in the third round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia on Thursday
  • Halep vs Keys Internazionali BNL d'Italia tennis is live from Rome on Thursday at 12.30pm local/11.30am BST
  • Watch and bet on tennis live from Rome at bet365 > live streaming > tennis (geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify) 
Simona Halep (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Simona Halep continues the defense of her world no. 1 ranking as she takes on former WTA Rome runner-up Madison Keys at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Thursday.

Simona Halep vs Madison Keys Internazionali BNL d'Italia tennis is streamed live from Rome on Thursday at 12.30pm local/11.30am BST (geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify). Watch and bet on tennis live from Rome at bet365 > live streaming > tennis

The beaten finalists at the past two editions of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia face off on Thursday as top seed and 2017 runner-up Simona Halep takes on 2016 runner-up Madison Keys.

Halep opened her account at the Foro Italico with a resoundingly good performance against Naomi Osaka, but the world no. 1 remains under a lot of pressure this week in Rome. Halep’s failure to defend her 2017 points in both Stuttgart and Madrid – she was a semifinalist at the former and champion at the latter 12 months ago, but lost in the quarterfinals of both events this year – has left the world no. 1 ranking within reach of Caroline Wozniacki this week, and if Halep isn’t ranked world no. 1 on Monday, she won’t be the top seed at the French Open when it starts a week on Sunday. Less quantifiable, if quite possibly more significant, is Halep’s need to get some good wins under her belt and feel confident heading into Roland Garros, the major where she has twice been within a set of the title and which remains surely her best chance of capturing the maiden Grand Slam trophy that’s so far eluded her. 

Under the circumstances, Halep’s victory over Osaka in the second round at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Wednesday meant a great deal more than simply reaffirming her dominant head-to-head against the younger woman. Osaka had completely dominated Halep in their last encounter, a 6-3, 6-0 victory for the Japanese-American player in the semifinals of Indian Wells, and had booked her place in the second round in Rome by beating Victoria Azarenka 6-0, 6-3. Moreover, she’s a similar type of player to Coco Vandeweghe and Karolina Pliskova, the two who blasted Halep off the court in Stuttgart and Rome, raising the question of whether Halep’s chances of winning Roland Garros didn’t simply rest on the precarious hope of avoiding more powerful players having a good day for seven matches. 

Halep’s 6-1, 6-0 victory over Osaka made quite the statement, therefore, as the Romanian won the last 12 games of the match to reel off a win in just under an hour. Osaka had four break points in Halep’s opening service game after holding her own serve to open the match, but Halep fended off all four, held serve – and then went on the offensive. Not only did she constantly pressure errors out of Osaka, especially on the backhand wing, but she hit plenty of winners herself – 15 to Osaka’s ten – while maintaining a good ratio of winners to unforced errors (she hit 14 of the latter). Her tactical acuity in zeroing in on precisely the areas in which Osaka was feeling most vulnerable, and her ability to dictate rallies without striking wildly, were extremely impressive – and stand her in good stead as she prepares to face another explosive, powerful and error-prone opponent in Madison Keys.

With Caroline Wozniacki yet to play her first match in Rome at the time of writing, the maths dictates that Halep needs to reach the quarterfinals and then go one round better than the Dane in order to retain her world no. 1 ranking. Halep’s win over Osaka has put her within touching distance of satisfying the first requirement, and if she can beat Keys on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals, the pressure will very much be on Wozniacki, who is considerably less effective on clay than other surfaces.


Madison Keys  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Keys reached the solitary WTA final of her career on European clay at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in 2016, beating Petra Kvitova and Garbine Muguruza on her way to the title match where she finished runner-up to Serena Williams. Keys would go on to reach the round of 16 at the French Open for the first time, losing to Kiki Bertens, and finished the season at world no. 7 after winning Birmingham and making the final in Montreal. But when Keys returned to European clay in 2017, whatever confidence she had gained about her ability to play on clay took a definite backseat to her lack of match fitness and the ongoing after-effects of the wrist surgery she had in November 2017 – she won just one match in four events played on clay and actually had a second wrist surgery to clean up some damage from the first after the French Open.

The American would, of course, return to full fitness with a vengeance when she won the Bank of the West Classic and made her first Grand Slam final at the US Open, losing to Sloane Stephens, and she started 2018 quite well with a quarterfinal run at the Australian Open, beating eighth seed Caroline Garcia before losing to Angelique Kerber. Keys only won one of four matches in Doha, Indian Wells and Miami – her defeat to world no. 117-ranked wildcard Danielle Collins at Indian Wells, which had coach Lindsay Davenport publicly questioning her competitive spirit, was a particularly low point – but made the semifinals of the Volvo Car Open in Charleston on green clay, only to then struggle for wins again upon returning to European clay; she scored a significant victory for the USA on indoor clay in Aix-en-Provence against Pauline Parmentier during Fed Cup, but lost her opening matches in both Stuttgart (to world no. 27 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova) and Madrid (to world no. 129 Sara Sorribes Tormo). 

Once again, moving on to Rome seems to have done the trick: Keys avenged her defeat to Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets in the first round, and came back from breaks down in both sets to beat Donna Vekic in the second round of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, dominating both tie breaks to win 7-6(2), 7-6(0). 

The outlook for the American doesn’t look bright against Halep, though. The Romanian enjoys a 5-1 record against Keys, with the American’s solitary victory coming all the way back in 2014 in Sydney. Since then, Halep has won five straight matches against Keys, including a clay-court meeting in Rome which Halep won 5-7, 6-0, 6-1. Keys hasn’t even taken a set in the last three matches she’s played against Halep, and it seems extremely unlikely she will do so on clay, not when Halep is playing the kind of sparkling, self-assured tennis she was producing against Osaka. The Romanian looks likely to book her place in the quarterfinals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia once more in straight sets on Thursday.


Halep vs Keys Internazionali BNL d’Italia tennis is live from Rome on Thursday at 12.30pm local/11.30am BST. Watch and bet on the match live at bet365 > live streaming > tennis > Simona Halep vs Madison Keys (geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify) 


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Simona Halep vs Madison Keys live streaming, preview and tips: Halep targets sixth straight win over fellow Rome finalist Keys at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia

Simona Halep vs Madison Keys live streaming, preview and tips for the WTA Rome Internazionali BNL d’Italia third-round match on Thursday 17 May 2018: Halep continues to defend her world no. 1 ranking as she takes on Keys for a place in the quarterfinals. We preview the match and show you how you can watch the match live and bet in-play.

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