Serena edges brave Halep, Suarez Navarro awaits

Fri Apr 3, 2015 12:34am EDT
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By Simon Evans

MIAMI (Reuters) - World number one Serena Williams edged an enthralling battle with third-seed Simona Halep 6-2 4-6 7-5 to set up a Miami Open final showdown against Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro, who advanced in straight sets earlier on Thursday.

After the first set and with Williams in top form, it looked to be a straightforward night at Key Biscayne for the seven-times Miami champion but the contest turned into an 128-minute slugfest as Halep simply refused to fold.

The Romanian raised her game in the second set and handled Williams' serve superbly as both players held until the 23-year-old from Constanta broke for a 5-4 lead before serving out to force a deciding set.

Again Williams looked to have finished Halep off when she broke in the second game and raced out to a 3-0 lead but the Romanian dug deep once more to extend the contest.

With the surprisingly large contingent of Romanian fans roaring her on, Halep broke back and then held to level at 5-5.

Halep was the last player to beat Williams on the WTA Tour and another upset appeared on the cards but the top-seed held and then broke to love to finish off the match.

Earlier, Suarez Navarro completed a clinical 6-3 6-3 victory over German ninth seed Andrea Petkovic to reach her maiden final in a premier-level event and will make her top-10 debut on Monday when the world rankings are released.

Navarro will be the first Spanish woman to reach the top 10 since Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in 2001.   Continued...

Apr 2, 2015; Key Biscayne, FL, USA; Carla Suarez Navarro celebrates after her match against Andrea Petkovic (not pictured) in a women's singles semi-final on day eleven of the Miami Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center. Navarro won 6-3, 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports