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Tennis - 06. June 2018.

HEADSTRONG HALEP TURNS TABLES ON KERBER

The world No.1 hits back after losing the opening set to reach her third Roland-Garros semi-final.

The clouds had gathered over Stade Roland-Garros ahead of Simona Halep's quarter-final showdown with Angelique Kerber, but Court Suzanne-Lenglen was bathed in sunshine by the time the world No.1 had booked her place in a third Roland-Garros semi-final.

It was a fitting atmosphere for a match that began with Halep under a cloud before her effervescent swagger broke through, turning the match on its head to prevail 6-7(2) 6-3 6-2 and set up a semi-final clash with Garbine Muguruza.

"It's always a tough match when I play against her," said Halep, who now owns a 6-4 record against the German. "It's always three hours, so I'm always prepared before the match that it's going to be the same. After the first set I just stayed strong, I didn't give up at all.

"I missed a lot at the beginning of the match. She's always putting the ball back and she doesn't miss, so I tried to do too much and it didn't work. Then I changed my tactics a little bit, and it worked very well in the end."

“Of course, it's a different match [against Muguruza]. I have to expect some hard points, power. It doesn't matter who she is playing against, she does her game. So I have just to stay strong, to try to make her uncomfortable on court, and to try to play my game.”

For two world No.1s – one past, one present – to have reached the quarter-finals under the radar speaks volumes for the myriad storylines to have emerged from the women’s singles tournament, as well as their no-nonsense progress. Kerber had not dropped a set en route to the last eight, while Halep, having dropped her opening set of the tournament to Alison Riske, had given up a total of just 14 games ahead of Wednesday’s showdown.

There’s no escaping the spotlight from here on out, however. This was their third Grand Slam showdown; Kerber had edged a tight straight-sets win en route to the final at Wimbledon in 2016, while Halep’s semi-final victory at the Australian Open in January was arguably the match of the tournament, with both players on the brink of collapse after the Romanian prevailed 9-7 in the third.

That day, it was Halep who sprinted out to a 5-0 lead in just 13 minutes, but on Court Suzanne-Lenglen it was Kerber who set the tone. From the outset her forehand carried a venom that proved too much for Halep in the opening exchanges, dictating play and drawing errors to open up a 4-0 lead.

The German’s early tactics were pitch-perfect, hammering flat, punchy drives cross-court early in the rallies that kept Halep on the defensive, but the world No.1 reacted with a tactical switch of her own, rallying down the centre of the court to deny the two-time major winner an angle from which to open up the court.


 

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