Halep holds off Pliskova, meets Kuznetsova next
SYDNEY (Reuters) - World number two Simona Halep continued her preparations for next week's Australian Open by booking a semi-final berth at the Sydney International with a gritty straight-sets win over Karolina Pliskova on Wednesday.
The Romanian withdrew from the Brisbane International last week because of a nagging Achilles injury, which also affected her 2015 campaign, and played through pain on Tuesday night in her second-round match against Caroline Garcia of France.
Pliskova did not make it any easier for Halep, twice the Czech fighting back before the top seed won 6-4 7-5 to set up a last-four clash against Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova.
The Czech player rallied from 5-1 down in the first set and in the second set made it 4-4 from 4-2 down before the 24-year-old Halep prevailed.
"It was tough today. It was very close," Halep told reporters. "I was leading in the first set, 5-1, but she came back really strong.
"I know she's been playing tough, she's playing well and she's strong with her serve, and I expected she was going to hit the balls well today.
"I did well to stay focused in the last few games of the second set, and that I could finish it in two sets.
"The weather was pretty warm and it was tough for me to handle it out there today."
Kuznetsova made a slow start in her match against Italian Sara Errani and fell 5-1 down in the first set before fighting back to win 7-6(1) 6-0. Continued...