Halep into Italian Open semi-finals

Tanya Simon
September 20, 2020

"I expect a tough battle but I feel fit", said former French Open champion Halep, a runner-up in Rome in 2017 and 2018 to Svitolina, who got past two-time Grand Slam victor Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6 (8/6), 6-4.

The red clay of Rome is traditionally a bit faster than Roland Garros' red clay.

"You don't really know what to expect". I stood behind her and was waiting for my opportunities.

"So I tried to change a little bit-to make her move, [play] a little bit of height".

Nadal proved too strong for 25th-ranked Lajovic, who had valiantly but vainly launched a fightback after trailing 4-0 in the second set to the Spaniard.

The Wimbledon champion was runner-up to Elina Svitolina in 2017 and 2018 finals.

"I know I have the game to win this tournament", Halep said. "So I think there is a good chance [to win the title]".

Halep will test Yulia Putintseva who upended Elena Rybakina in three. At the time of Putintseva's retirement, Halep was leading 6-2, 2-0.

"I think it's gonna be another hard match", Putintseva said of playing Halep.

Later, top-ranked Novak Djokovic and nine-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal play their men's quarterfinals.

"She's not finishing in like two or three strokes every point".

Every time Muguruza meets Johanna Konta the degree of difficulty spikes-all three of their prior meetings went the three-set distance-but today the two-time Grand Slam champion took charge on serve.

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Earlier, Hallep defeated Diana Yastremska of Ukraine 7-5, 6-4.

"I'm happy of course because every time we play we play long matches", Muguruza said.

Azarenka and Daria Kasatkina were locked at 6-6 in the first set of their third-round match when Kasatkina - a former top-10 player making her way back after a form slump - rolled her ankle and was forced to retire. In important moments, I served very well and I won some easy games on my serve.

"I really took my chances".

Muguruza improved to 20-5 on the season, including wins over Americans Coco Gauff and Sloane Stephens this week. "I didn't do so many errors, and I hit so many great drop shots". "Honestly that's what I'm looking for".

Azarenka has exceeded expectations after her quick switch to clay following the US Open final last weekend and started strongly but it was Muguruza who emerged victorious.

Halep is right to be cautious about Muguruza's form given that the former world No 1 came from a set and a break down against Azarenka, a recent US Open finalist.

"It ended in a really shitty way", Azarenka said after her 14th victory in her last 15 matches.

Wimbledon champions Halep were ahead 6-2, 2-0 in 47 minutes in the quarterfinal match when Putinseva chose to leave the match due to lower back pain. Halep's semi-final opponent will be Garbine Muguruza. For me, it's not a surprise.

"Another tough opponent and also she's playing great". It's a good quarterfinal.

In the second half, the other semi-final will be a Czech derby between the second seed Karoline Pliskova and 12th seed Marketa Vondrousova. And No. 2 seed Karolina Pliskova plays Elise Mertens after both won straight setters.

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