Melbourne - World number one Simona Halep overcame a nervous start to
batter sixth seed Karolina Pliskova into submission in their Australian Open
quarter-final on Wednesday.
The Romanian reeled off nine games in a row and 12 of the
last 14 games to recover from 0-3 en route to a 6-3, 6-2 victory 1hr 11min on
Rod Laver Arena.
"It's really nice to be in the semis," said Halep
after moving into the last four at Melbourne Park for the first time, where she
will face 2016 champion Angelique Kerber.
Halep had taken three sets to beat Pliskova in their
previous meeting, a semi-final at Roland Garros last year, and started shakily,
struggling to time her serve or groundstrokes.
But once she saved a break point at 0-3 to get on the
scoreboard, her confidence grew against an opponent who has never gone beyond
the last eight in Melbourne.
"For sure it wasn't my best start but I knew I had to
restart after three games to stop missing and move better," said Halep,
whose relentless chasing and powerful groundstrokes overwhelmed her taller,
"I started to open the court and play my style, and I
served well today. Everything went pretty much my way," added Halep who
showed no fitness concerns after carrying a painful ankle throughout the
She moved smoothly and freely throughout and will be glad to
have got off court so quickly. The Romanian had confessed to be "aching
everywhere" after being taken to 15-13 in the third set of a marathon
third-round match against Lauren Davis.
Pliskova was the top-rated server on the WTA Tour in 2017
but it took her until the sixth game of the second set to record her first ace.
A second followed on the next point but the match was
already gone and Halep moved into her an enticing clash against former number
Kerber, seeded 21, is in form and will return to the world's
top 10 on the back of a 14-match winning streak in Australia.
Earlier, the German enjoyed a similarly dominant romp past
last year's US Open finalist Madison Keys 6-1, 6-2.
"For sure Kerber is going to be different," said
"She's moving pretty well and returning the ball very
strong and many in the court.
"I have to be ready in my legs and be calm. I have to
dominate the match and try to finish the point. Just try to play my best."