Australian Open: Halep defeats Pliskova in straight sets to reach semi-finals

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No.1 seed Simona Halep of Romania emerged victorious in a brisk quarterfinal encounter between two Top 10 players on Wednesday, defeating No.6 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-2, and notching her first semi-final appearance at the Australian Open.

In a battle between a former World No.1 and the present World No.1, the current resident of the spot was able to overcome an initial 0-3 deficit in the first set, running off nine straight games at one point before winning comfortably in 72 minutes, wtatennis.com informs

“For sure it wasn’t my best start,” said Halep, in her on-court, post-match interview. “I just knew that I had to restart, actually, after three games — just to stop missing that much and to move better, which I did pretty well in the end. Then I just started to open the court, to play my style, and I served well today. Everything went pretty well for me.”

Halep and Pliskova had played six matches previously, and Halep had gotten the better of the Czech five of those times, including their most recent prior meeting, a tight three-set semi-final at Roland Garros last year.

But this match was far less competitive, as the Romanian won an impressive 76 percent of points on her first serve, and was not broken after the early hiccup in the first set. Halep nearly matched the power-hitter in winners (20 for Halep, one less than the Czech), and Pliskova, the WTA ace leader last year, had only two aces and could only win 54 percent of points on her first serve.

In the semi-finals, Halep will take on another former World No.1 — 2016 Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber of Germany. Earlier in the day, the No.21-seeded Kerber cruised past 17th-seeded American Madison Keys, 6-1, 6-2, which guaranteed the German a return to the Top 10 of the WTA rankings.

Begu/Niculescu fail to reach final

The Romanian pair Irina Begu/Monica Niculescu was defeated on Wednesday by the Russian duo Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina 6-4, 6-3 in the semi-finals in Melbourne.

The match lasted one hour and 25 minutes.

For reaching the semi-finals, Begu and Niculescu will collect AUD 185,000 and 780 WTA points.

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