Simona Halep survived another three-setter to reach the semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Friday. The world no. 2, the top-seed this week, defeated seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka. As in her second-round match against Ons Jabeur, Halep came from a set down to claim victory although she did not have to save match points.
The final result after one hour and 36 minutes of play read 3-6, 6-2, 6-2. Halep went into the match with the lead in the head-to-head against Sabalenka. However, the previous time the two had met – at the Adelaide International in January – Sabalenka had ruthlessly beaten the two-time Major champion.
The way the first set played out, it seemed as though the Belarusian would once again have her way in the match. Halep acknowledged as much, in her post-match media interaction. She said, “At the beginning, it was a little bit fast everything, too powerful.
Since I got the rhythm, it was much easier for me to feel the game. I think I played quicker in the second set and third set. She didn't have time to stay and to hit the ball. So, I think that was the key of the match”.
Halep will play Jennifer Brady in the semi-finals in a rematch of their 2020 Australian Open first round. Brady defeated Garbine Muguruza in their quarter-final match. In the other semi-final, eighth seed Petra Martic will take on Elena Rybakina.
The Croatian won her last-eight match against Anett Kontaveit 7-6(4), 6-1 in one hour and 41 minutes. This is Martic’s first semi-final appearance in a tournament this season, so far. Photo Credit: Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships