Former champion Simona Halep rallied from a set down to deny Aryna Sabelenka 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 to reach the semifinals in Dubai.
The Romanian avenged a loss to Sabalenka earlier in the year in Adelaide, but today she took 12 of the last 16 games.
“I think I started to play a little bit stronger in the second set and find rhythm,” Halep told the crowd. “It’s always tough to play against her because she’s very strong and hits the ball really, really hard, so I had to play faster, be quicker on court and give everything I had to win.
“Always, it’s tough against her because she’s a little bit taller than me and she has a lot of power. I just had to block some balls, and to get the initiative to go and open the court.”
The 2015 tournament winner will now face surprising American Jennifer Brady. The qualifier continued her incredible run upsetting Garbine Muguruza 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4.
“It’s good to be in the semifinals again here,” said Halep. “I love the conditions. I love playing in Dubai. I just want to enjoy, to take it as an opportunity to win another match. I know it’s going to be tough. We played in Melbourne, and it was not easy.
“I think she’s got a lot of confidence during these matches. She’s winning against tough opponents and top players. She has a strong game. Her forehand is really good. She improved in the backhand.
“It’s a tough one, but I’m ready to play it. Hopefully I can do my job.”
En route to her biggest semifinal, Brady has upended Elina Svitolina, French finalist Marketa Vondrousova and now the Australian runner-up.
“I wasn’t feeling my best,” said Brady. “Maybe didn’t play my best tennis, but just found a way to stay in there, compete, come out on top.”
Halep will try to reach her first WTA final since Wimbledon while Brady has never made a tour title match. The two met last month in Melbourne with Halep coming through after a very tough first set.
Young Kazakh Elena Rybakina continued to be one of the breakout stars of 2020. The 20-year-old scored another big win ousting former No. 1 Karolina Pliskova 7-6(1), 6-3.
“I thought she played really well, especially on all of my chances,” Pliskova said. “I had a couple – actually, I had a lot. I thought I did an OK job just going into her second serve every time. I think she just came back with some good shots. Of course, she’s young, so she went for it. She played well,… It’s tough. I think on days like this, really I didn’t do that much wrong.”
In her fourth semifinal in five events this season, she’ll face former French semifinalist Petra Martic who took out Anett Kontaveit 7-6(1), 6-1.
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