Sydney - Romania's Simona Halep fought off
big-serving Czech Karolina Pliskova to reach the semi-finals of the Sydney
International on Wednesday.
The world number two had earlier been
tested in two tight previous matches, and Pliskova again made things difficult
Halep had early breaks in both sets only to
be pulled back, before the tournament top seed closed out for a 6-4, 7-5 win
over the Czech fifth seed in one hour and 38 minutes in blistering heat.
"It was tough today. Was very close.
She's playing well, and she's strong with the serve," Halep said.
"I expected that she's going to hit
all the balls, so she did. Against her you don't have rhythm too much, so
that's why it's tough to play."
Halep finished with slightly more winners
than Pliskova, 22 to 21, but far fewer errors, 33 to 43.
The Romanian is battling an Achilles injury
and admitted to feeling pain during her opening victory over Frenchwoman
Caroline Garcia late on Tuesday. It followed her late withdrawal from the Brisbane
International last week.
Halep will face former world number two
Svetlana Kuznetsova in the last four after the Russian fought back from 1-5
down in the opening set to knock out Italian Sara Errani 7-6 (7/1), 6-0.
Halep leads Kuznetsova 3-2 in their
"I know that she's playing a lot of
topspin, so it's a different player tomorrow, different style," Halep said
of facing Kuznetsova.
"I expected a tough one. Of course
every match at this level is very tough, but I believe I have my chance."
Elsewhere Puerto Rican qualifier Monica
Puig ended Australia's Samantha Stosur's run, 6-4, 6-4 and will face either
Swiss eighth seed Belinda Bencic or Russia's Ekaterina Makarova in the semis.