World number one Simona Halep expects a “marathon” in her Australian Open semi-final against Angelique Kerber after blitzing sixth seed Karolina Pliskova in their Australian Open quarter-final on Wednesday.
The Romanian overcame a shaky start to reel off nine games in a row and 12 of the last 14 games to recover from 0-3 en route to a 6-3, 6-2 victory on Rod Laver Arena.
The match was over in 71 minutes – a stark contrast to her third-round victory over Lauren Davis of the US.
That lasted 3hr 44min with Halep winning 15-13 in the final set after saving three match points.
“For sure is going to be a second marathon this tournament,” said Halep looking ahead to the semi.
She has played the German 2016 Australian Open champion eight times with the series level at 4-4.
“But I’m used to that. I know her pretty well. She likes it here. But I started to like this tournament, after two years in a row losing in the first round,” added Halep, who is in the last four at Melbourne Park for the first time.
The Romanian had taken three sets to beat Pliskova in their previous meeting, a semi-final at Roland Garros last year, and started shakily, struggling to time her serve or groundstrokes.
But once she saved a break point at 0-3 to get on the scoreboard, her confidence grew against an opponent who has never gone beyond the last eight in Melbourne.
“For sure it wasn’t my best start but I knew I had to restart after three games to stop missing and move better,” said Halep, whose relentless chasing and powerful groundstrokes overwhelmed her taller, tattooed opponent.
“I started to open the court and play my style, and I served well today. Everything went pretty much my way.”
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She added that she was more confident about the injured ankle she has nursed throughout the tournament.
“I was just worried about how is going to be the next day, the ankle,” she said. “But was pretty strong. After this I will take care better of it.”
Pliskova was the top-rated server on the WTA Tour in 2017 but it took her until the sixth game of the second set to record her first ace.
“My serve is not that effective on her,” said the world number six, who has never got past the quarter-final stage in a Grand Slam.
“She returns pretty well. She’s strong on the backhand side. I try to play fast, but I think she likes this. She just use my speed. Then in the end, I’m the one who is running.”
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