Tennis

Simona Halep holds off Ashleigh Barty to reach Madrid Open semifinals

AFP-JIJI

Two-time champion Simona Halep overcame Ashleigh Barty 7-5, 7-5 to reach her fourth Madrid Open semifinal on Thursday.

The Romanian third seed and former world No. 1 will next play the Naomi Osaka-Belinda Bencic winner.

Halep, who has been struggling with an injury, took the opening set and went up a break in the second before losing it against the ninth-seeded Australian who won the Miami title in March.

Halep regained control with a break for 6-5 as her opponent returned wide. She wrapped up victory with an untouchable forehand to the corner.

“It’s not easy to keep winning here,” Halep said after a victory in which she broke four times.

“But I’m very motivated after reaching the semifinals again. I will have another challenge tomorrow (Friday), so I’m not looking any further ahead than that.

“If I can play my best tennis, then we will see,” added the player who advanced through her third-round match on Wednesday without the loss of a game.

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