French Open 2018

Gritty Halep beats Kerber

Simona Halep in action against Angelique Kerber during their French Open quarter-final yesterday. The Romanian changed tactics after dropping the first set, recovering her composure to win 6-7 (2-7), 6-3, 6-2.
Simona Halep in action against Angelique Kerber during their French Open quarter-final yesterday. The Romanian changed tactics after dropping the first set, recovering her composure to win 6-7 (2-7), 6-3, 6-2.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

World No. 1 into semi-finals after shaky start; will face Muguruza, who blitzed Sharapova

PARIS • Simona Halep attributed her bruising French Open quarter-final success against Angelique Kerber yesterday to her never-say-die attitude, after she fought her way back to win the encounter 6-7 (2-7), 6-3, 6-2.

The Romanian world No. 1 started slowly, spraying shots wide as she lost the first four games of the match against the No. 12 seed German who hit her early groundstrokes with lethal accuracy.

But Halep managed to claw back into the contest, winning three straight games as both players struggled to hold serve.

Kerber eventually prevailed in a tiebreaker, but Halep came out all guns blazing in the second set, firing baseline bullets at her opponent. By the third set, Halep had broken down the German's defence - and her resolve.

"It's always a tough match when I play against her. After the first set, I just stayed strong and didn't give up," Halep told the Court Suzanne Lenglen crowd in a post-match interview.

"I missed a lot in the beginning. I tried to do too much. I changed the tactics a bit and it worked."

Halep, who has yet to win a Grand Slam title, is in the Roland Garros semis for the third time. She is a two-time finalist in Paris.

She will face Garbine Muguruza in the semi-finals after the Spanish third seed and 2016 champion thrashed Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-1 on Court Philippe Chatrier.

It was Sharapova's worst Grand Slam defeat in more than six years. The Russian suffered her most one-sided loss at the Slams in the 2012 Australian Open final, losing 6-3, 6-0 to Victoria Azarenka.

"I am very pleased to be in another semi-final in Paris," said Muguruza, who has yet to drop a set in the tournament.

"I was up against a great player so I had to make sure I brought my best tennis."

Sharapova, who missed the 2016 tournament because of a doping ban and last year after she was refused a wild card, was broken six times, committed 27 unforced errors and won just five points on her own serve in the second set.

It was just her fifth loss in 25 Grand Slam quarter-finals.

"To have had the victories that I have had, to have the results that I have, obviously moving a step in the right direction," said Sharapova, who had made the last eight in Madrid and semis in Rome in the run-up to the French Open.

"But today was certainly not one of those steps."

The Halep-Muguruza semi-final is poised to be a big clash as it will also decide the world No. 1 spot next week.

The Spaniard is expecting a tougher test against last year's runner-up Halep on Thursday.

"I think she's right now probably the best player. Well, she's No. 1," she said. "I'm excited to play a good semi-final and it's good that it's tomorrow."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2018, with the headline 'Gritty Halep beats Kerber'. Print Edition | Subscribe