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Halep staves off match point to reach French Open semis

IANS logoIANS 08-06-2017

The third seed clinched the win in two hours and six minutes after saving a match point late in the second set on Wednesday. The Romanian even came within inches of defeat because one of her forehands clipped the line when she was trailing 5-6 in the tiebreaker, reports Efe.

The baseline battle pitted the steady, consistent ball-striking of Halep against the aggressive but erratic play of the fifth-seeded Svitolina, whose approach proved far more effective in grabbing a 6-3, 5-1 lead.

But Halep played virtually error-free tennis the rest of the way to win 12 of the final 13 games against her increasingly flustered opponent.

The Romanian, who has struggled with on-court negativity at times, most recently in a quarterfinal loss to the United Kingdom's Johanna Konta at the Miami Open, where Halep let her frustration get the better of her, has turned a corner mentally in recent weeks and that showed in Wednesday's comeback.

For the match, Svitolina struck 36 winners to Halep's 26 but she also committed 18 more unforced errors (45 to 27).

"I think today I showed that I'm stronger mentally," Halep was quoted as saying on the French Open's official Web site. "I stayed there till the end, even if I was a little bit upset during the match. But it was all positive."

In Thursday's second women's singles semi-final, Halep will take on second seed Czech Karolina Pliskova, who defeated Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 in their final-eight match up.

That semi-final has particular significance because the Czech will climb to world No. 1 for the first time with a victory, while the Romanian can claim the top spot if she wins the tournament.

The other semi-final will pit 30th-seeded Swiss Timea Bacsinszky against unseeded Latvian Jelena Ostapenko.

The 25-year-old Halep, who lost to Russia's Maria Sharapova in the 2014 French Open final, came into Roland Garros full of confidence after winning a premier mandatory event in Madrid and losing to Svitolina in the Rome final.

Halep sustained an ankle injury in that defeat that appeared to jeopardise her French Open hopes, but she has made a quick recovery and now is just two wins away from a maiden Grand Slam title.

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