Halep beats Azarenka to reach U.S. Open semis
By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Second seed Simona Halep, cheered on by Romanian gymnastics great Nadia Comaneci, fought off a determined challenge from former world number one Victoria Azarenka to reach the semi-finals of the U.S. Open on Wednesday.
The 23-year-old Halep, of Romania, chasing her first grand slam singles title, came out strong against the Belarussian after an 85-minute, third-set rain delay to secure a 6-3 4-6 6-4 victory and a last-four clash against Italy's Flavia Pennetta.
"It was a tough match. I’m really happy that I could win, I don’t know where it comes, the power to win this match," said the diminutive, but hard-hitting Halep.
Halep was run ragged in the second set by Azarenka who sent her scurrying from corner to corner as she fought back to level the quarter-final at one set apiece.
A light rain forced them off the court in the fourth game of the third set but when they returned to Arthur Ashe Stadium, a revived Halep took command.
"I was a bit tired after the second set and that break helped me. Thanks God, for raining," Halep said in an on-court interview.
"I found the power to give everything to win this one because I really wanted to play first time the semi-finals here."
After an opening set dominated by Halep, two-times Australian Open winner Azarenka, who has slipped to 20th in the world rankings after battling injuries the last two seasons, battled back. Continued...