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Halep finds groove to reach Prague semi-finals

(Reuters) - Simona Halep said she was slowly returning to her best form following the COVID-19 hiatus as she cruised past Poland’s Magdalena Frech 6-2 6-0 on Friday to reach the Prague Open semi-finals.

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - Australian Open - Semi Final - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 30, 2020 Romania's Simona Halep reacts during her match against Spain's Garbine Muguruza REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

World number two Halep made a rusty start to the claycourt tournament and needed three sets to win each of her first two matches against Polona Hercog and Barbora Krejcikova.

But the 28-year-old showed no signs of rust as she dominated the last seven games against 174th-ranked Frech to seal the victory in style.

“I felt better on court today. The fact that she was not hitting very strong meant that I had time to play my game, to be more aggressive,” Halep told reporters.

“I did better than previous days. But those days helped me to find the rhythm and the energy on court. I recovered well... I moved better, was more aggressive... that helped me to finish the points, to get the confidence back.

“Even if I’m not yet at my highest level, I’m improving, which is good. I’m happy about it... I don’t feel insecure on court. I feel that my game is going to be there soon. I just have to work a little bit more.”

Two-times Grand Slam champion Halep next takes on compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu or Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo.

Begu had won the opening set of her match against Tormo when rain suspended play.

Earlier, third seed Elise Mertens reached the last-four by beating Canadian wildcard Eugenie Bouchard 6-4 1-6 6-4.

She next plays Kristyna Pliskova, who advanced after Ana Bogdan retired due to an injury while leading 5-2 in the first set of their quarter-final.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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