Thu, 01 Oct 2020

Halep, Muguruza reach Australian Open semis

Field Level Media
29 Jan 2020, 14:55 GMT+10

Simona Halep, the world's No. 1 player for most of 2018, showed her top form Wednesday as she charged into the Australian Open semifinals in Melbourne.

The fourth-seeded Romanian routed 28th-seeded Estonian Anett Kontaveit 6-1, 6-1 in 53 minutes.

Halep set up a semifinal matchup against another former world No. 1, unseeded Spaniard Garbine Muguruza, who topped 30th-seeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5, 6-3.

Halep, 28, was No. 1 for all but four weeks from October 2017 to January 2019. Since that point, Japan's Naomi Osaka and Australia's Ashleigh Barty have traded off the top ranking.

Barty is also through to the semifinals in Melbourne, where she will face 14th-seeded American Sofia Kenin.

Halep cruised against Kontaveit, saving the only break point she faced and breaking serve on 5 of 11 opportunities. Halep won 25 of 32 points on her first serve (78 percent).

"Perfection doesn't exist, but I'm very happy with the way I played," Halep said. "I felt great on court. I was moving great. I felt the ball, like, really, really good. It was a great match."

The reigning Wimbledon champion, Halep is looking for her third Grand Slam title and her first in Australia. She won the French Open in 2018. Halep fell to Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki in the 2018 Australian Open final.

Halep has yet to drop a set through five matches in Melbourne, and she was only pushed to a tiebreaker once.

Muguruza is looking to add to a major-tournament title list that includes the 2016 French Open and 2017 Wimbledon. She hadn't reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal in her past six tries before this week, and she lost in the first round of the last two majors in 2018.

Muguruza's best previous result in the Australian Open was a quarterfinal loss in 2017. The 26-year-old is currently ranked 32nd in the world.

Pavlyuchenkova got the first service break against Muguruza in the third game of the match, but Muguruza immediately broke back. The players exchanged breaks again in the seventh and eighth games before Muguruza broke serve to take the set.

After another exchange of breaks in the first two games of the second set, Muguruza got the decisive break for a 4-2 lead before serving out the match.

Muguruza had more winners (21-18) and fewer unforced errors (26-21) than Pavlyuchenkova.

--Field Level Media

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