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Tennis-Halep battles past Golubic to reach semis in Melbourne

Randy Mancini 5 Jan 7
Romania's Simona Halep practices at Melbourne Park in Melbourne
FILE PHOTO: Romania's Simona Halep practices in the lead-up to the 2022 Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, January 3, 2022. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

January 7, 2022

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Two-times Grand Slam champion Simona Halep was made to work hard for a victory by sixth seed Viktorija Golubic on Friday, as the Romanian prevailed 6-2 5-7 6-4 to reach the semi-finals of the Melbourne Summer Set 1 WTA tournament.

World number 20 Halep looked in control during the first set but allowed her Swiss opponent back into the contest in the next and appeared frustrated at times in the decider, where both players freely traded breaks early on.

An error-prone Halep continued to struggle on her serve and smashed her racquet before breaking for a 5-4 lead and heaved a big sigh of relief when she sealed the win on Rod Laver Arena.

“It was really difficult,” Halep said. “I didn’t trust that I could win the match, but I fought. She played unbelievable tennis so I’m happy I could be stronger in the end.”

She next faces China’s Zheng Qinwen, who advanced with a battling 7-6(1) 7-6(8) win over unseeded Ana Konjuh.

Former world number one Naomi Osaka takes on German Andrea Petkovic later on Friday, after third seed Veronika Kudermetova meets Anastasia Potapova in an all-Russian clash on Margaret Court Arena.

Rafa Nadal’s hopes of getting some much-needed practice in before the Jan. 17-30 Australian Open were dashed when Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor pulled out of their quarter-final clash with an unspecified injury.

The Spanish world number six, who brought a premature end to his 2021 season with a left foot issue, beat qualifier Ricardas Berankis on Thursday before withdrawing from his doubles clash.

The 20-times Grand Slam winner will meet Emil Ruusuvuori in the semi-finals, after the Finn eased past Alex Molcan 6-2 6-1.

Third-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov meets Botic van de Zandschulp, while Nadal’s doubles partner Jaume Munar takes on American Maxime Cressy in the other last-eight clash.

Russian Daria Kasatkina shook off a slow start to beat Nuria Parrizas-Diaz 7-5 6-1 in the Melbourne Summer Set 2 tournament, with American Amanda Anisimova also advancing to the semis.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin)