Former world number one Simona Halep spent her off-season away from home in Dubai for the first time so she could focus fully on 2020 and her quest for a third major singles title.
- Simona Halep won 11 consecutive games during her comprehensive 6-1, 6-1 victory over Anett Kontaveit
- Halep will meet Garbine Muguruza in the semi-finals after the Spaniard beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5, 6-3
- Australia’s world number one Ash Barty plays American Sofia Kenin in the other semi-final
The Romanian is within two wins of achieving that goal already after breezing into the Australian Open semi-finals with a 6-1, 6-1 win over 28th-seeded Anett Kontaveit in just 53 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
Kontaveit held the opening game at love. From then on it was all one-way traffic, as Wimbledon champion Halep went on a relentless 11-game roll that took the quarter-final match away from her Estonian rival.
Halep, who is coached by Australian Darren Cahill, will play another former world number one and two-time major winner, Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, in tomorrow’s semi-finals.
The unseeded Muguruza, a French Open (2016) and Wimbledon champion (2017) during her career, won her quarter-final against Russian 30th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5, 6-3.
World number one Ash Barty faces 14th seed Sofia Kenin of the US in the other semi-final tomorrow, the Australian having beaten Petra Kvitova in straight sets to progress to the last four.
While public expectations in Australia are high for Barty, Halep showed against Kontaveit why many consider her to be the top contender for the women’s title at Melbourne Park.
Seeded fourth, Halep advanced to the last four without dropping a set and said she felt like she was playing her best tennis.
“I felt great today on court,” Halep said in her courtside interview.
“I feel my game. I feel strong on my legs. I’ve been focused, every point. I worked a little bit more in the off-season.
“It’s the first time in my life I did the off-season away from home, so I could be focused. No days off.
“This year I’ve started very well. I’m feeling much stronger than before.”
Halep worked for every point and strangled Kontaveit’s opportunities. She only faced one break point and fended it off with a commanding forehand winner.
In the second set, Halep won the longest rally of the match — a 25-shot exchange — and then followed it up immediately with an ace on the way to 5-0 lead.
Halep reached the Australian Open final in 2018, saving match points in the third round and in the semi-finals along the way, before losing the tournament decider in three sets to Caroline Wozniacki.
That gave Wozniacki her first and only major title and it provided Halep with a lot more motivation.
Halep only had to wait one more Grand Slam tournament before collecting her first major title at the French Open. She added a second a bit over 12 months later when she won Wimbledon last year by thrashing Serena Williams 6-2, 6-2.
original source: Abc