Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber set up intriguing semi-final

Halep thrashes Pliskova while 2016 champion Kerber eases past America’s Keys

Simona Halep  celebrates winning her  quarter-final against Karolina Pliskova. Photograph: Scott Barbour/Getty

Simona Halep celebrates winning her quarter-final against Karolina Pliskova. Photograph: Scott Barbour/Getty

 

Simona Halep won nine games in a row to breeze past Karolina Pliskova and set up a mouthwatering Australian Open semi-final against former champion Angelique Kerber.

World number one Halep has had a rollercoaster ride in Melbourne, suffering an ankle injury in the first round and then surviving three match points before beating Lauren Davis 15-13 in the deciding set.

But since then Halep has barely put a foot wrong and, after being overpowered by sixth seed Pliskova in the first three games, she turned the tables to claim a 6-3 6-2 victory.

It was a match of styles between the big-hitting of Pliskova and Halep’s supreme athleticism and court craft, and from 3-0 down the match began to swing decisively in the top seed’s favour.

Despite standing only 5ft 6in tall compared to Pliskova’s 6ft 1in, Halep hit only one fewer winner and the Czech’s 28 unforced errors compared to just 10 for her opponent sealed her fate.

This is Halep’s best run in Melbourne, and the 26-year-old said: “It’s really nice to be in the semis. I’ve been in the semis of juniors in 2008.

“For sure it wasn’t my best start but I just knew I have to restart to stop missing and moving better, which I did pretty well. Then I started to open the court and play my style. I served well so everything went pretty well for me.”

Kerber

The first quarter-final was a similar clash of styles and again it was the counter-puncher who came out on top, and even more emphatically, with Kerber blasting to a 6-1 6-2 victory over Madison Keys in just 51 minutes.

The American never settled into the match — much like her US Open final appearance, when she was similarly crushed by Sloane Stephens — with her poor record against Kerber perhaps in her mind.

Keys had only won one of their previous seven matches and had failed to win a set in the last three, but none of them had been quite like this.

The 22-year-old threatened to mount a recovery when she pulled back from 3-0 to 3-2 in the second but, after her serve was broken again in the next game, the match quickly went away from her.

Germany’s Angelique Kerber is through to the last four of the Australian Open. Photograph: Saeed Khan/AFP
Germany’s Angelique Kerber is through to the last four of the Australian Open. Photograph: Saeed Khan/AFP

The German, who endured such a miserable 2017 after her brilliant 2016, is now guaranteed to return to the top 10 and extended her winning streak to 10 matches.

Kerber said: “It’s always tough to play against Madison, she’s hitting the ball so hard. I was just trying from the beginning like I played the whole week, just going out there playing my game and trying to enjoy it.

“Always when I play here I feel such great memories. I’m just happy to get through and to be again in the semis here.”

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.