Simona Halep is back in the Madrid semifinals for a fourth time. The two-time champion eased past Ash Barty 7-5, 7-5 breaking the Australian at 5-all in both sets.
“For me, it’s a huge victory,” said Halep. “It’s a huge match that I played today. It means a lot that I could win this match.
“It was very difficult and every point was important,” she added. “I tried to stay calm during the points because sometimes I force and I miss, but with [Barty] you have to keep the ball on court and try to mix also like she does.”
In the semifinals tomorrow, Halep will meet the rejuvenated Belinda Bencic who toppled Naomi Osaka for a second time this year, upsetting the Japanese 3-6, 6-2, 7-5. Osaka served for the match at 5-4 in the third before the Swiss took the last three games.
“[She] was putting me under a lot of pressure and I didn’t catch a very good start on the start of the match,” Bencic said. ” In the second set, I just tried to play a little bit more aggressive, more brave, tried to push her more and go for my shots more. I feel like that helped a lot.”
Bencic leads Halep 2-1 and just beat her in Dubai.
“I was leading the match so it’s very open, and on clay, it is going to be different,” said Halep. “We never played, I think, on clay court, so I feel confident here. I like clay, so I believe I have the chance to win, but also it’s going to be a tough challenge, so we will see tomorrow.”
Osaka will now lose her No. 1 ranking in Halep wins the title.
“She played really good points,” Osaka said of the third set. “I can’t necessarily say it was all on me. When you play against a good player, you have to expect that they are going to play great at times, too.
“Of course, I feel like I was negative on myself this match, but I kind of tried to fix it in the third set.”
In a rematch of the 2018 final, Kiki Bertens got her revenge on Petra Kvitova cruising past the Czech in the last match of the day 6-2, 6-3.
“It’s always tough to play against Petra, we have had great matchups almost every time we played,” Bertens told press afterwards. “Also from here last year, that was a great match.
“I think it wasn’t that I did something really differently [from last year], but I think Petra didn’t play her best today. Also last year the roof was closed, which helped her a little more than me. So today it was cooler, a bit windier, so the conditions helped me today.
“From my side I feel like I played solid from the beginning. It was just a good match from my side.”
Bertens will square off against Sloane Stephens who dispatched Petra Martic 6-4, 6-3.
“It’s going to be a tough one against Sloane, we played in Singapore which was a really tough match,” Bertens said. “She’s a great player of course, and a great athlete, so I have to be ready again and play aggressive when I can. And hit as many balls back as I can.”
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