DUBAI (Reuters) - Simona Halep beat Caroline Wozniacki 2-6 6-1 6-1 in the semi-finals of the Dubai Championships on Friday as the indefatigable Romanian pounded her foe from the baseline.
The Romanian top seed will be favourite to overcome Karolina Pliskova in Saturday’s Aviation Club final after the Czech baseliner subdued Spaniard Garbine Muguruza 6-4 5-7 7-5 in the other semi.
“Day by day, I’ve played better – I tried to be aggressive, I’m playing good tennis, I’m feeling relaxed,” Halep said in a courtside interview.
Halep, wearing a mauve skirt and purple vest, struggled to find her range in the opening exchanges as she surrendered the first set with a double fault.
But the Romanian, who feels she now has the big game experience to win grand slams following a breakthrough 2014, began the second set re-energised.
She broke Wozniacki immediately, taking advantage of a short second serve to slug a forehand crosscourt winner.
Halep’s finesse, power and speed over the court allowed her to level the match as Wozniacki, suffering from illness and a troublesome knee, wilted under pressure.
The Romanian ended up claiming 12 of the last 14 games as she secured a place in the final.
“The first set I was playing pretty decent,” two-time U.S. Open finalist Wozniacki told reporters. “But start of the second I made a few stupid mistakes on important points.”
In the other semi-final, Pliskova proved too consistent for Muguruza, who veered between brilliant and bewildering.
Tough playing conditions could explain some of the world number 24’s difficulties - temperatures were in the mid-30s Celsius as a sand storm engulfed Dubai and drew a phalanx of helpers to sweep the court beforehand.
But Muguruza was often wild in her serving and too aggressive on return, allowing Pliskova to keep the ball in play and wait for the Spaniard to blunder.
Reporting by Matt Smith, editing by Pritha Sarkar