Montreal: World No.1 Simona Halep punched her ticket to the semifinals of the WTA Montreal Open tennis tournament for the fourth straight year, cruising past France’s Caroline Garcia 7-5, 6-1.
The 26-year-old Halep battled through a difficult first set, then easily won the second in a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal contest with Garcia which was also won by the Romanian. The top-seeded Halep hammered 19 winners and won 77 per cent of points on her first serve in the 88-minute contest.
“The first set was really tough,” Halep said. “I just didn’t give up at all in the first set. After I took it, I felt more confident. I felt that I’m moving better, I’m playing better, stronger.”
Halep will next face Aussie Ashleigh Barty, who ousted giant-killer Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands in straight sets 6-3, 6-1. World No.16 Barty reached the semifinals by reeling off nine of the last 10 games against Bertens.
“I never played against (Barty), so I don’t really know what to expect,” said Halep. “But I know she’s very talented. I just have to talk to my coach before the match, trying to stay stronger on my legs, and trying to be with the energy at the highest level.”
US Open champion Sloane Stephens was just as ruthless as Barty in her quarterfinal as the third-seeded American made the semifinals for the second straight year, with a 6-2, 6-2 hammering of Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia.
Stephens will take on defending champion Elina Svitolina, who came back from an 0-4 deficit in the first set to eliminate Elise Mertens 7-5, 6-3.