DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Unseeded Belinda Bencic rallied to beat second-ranked Simona Halep 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 Thursday to reach the Dubai Championships semifinals.
Bencic, who saved six match points in the previous round against Aryna Sabalenka, failed to capitalize on an early break in the first set but Halep continued to struggle with her serve and was broken seven times in total. Bencic broke for a 5-4 lead in the second and then raced out to a 3-0 lead in the decider, having won six games in a row. Halep, who was playing her ninth match in 13 days after reaching the final in Qatar last week, got one break back but Bencic broke again for a 5-2 lead before converting her third match point.
“It was really difficult physically,” Halep said. “I was tired. After the second set, I felt like I’m getting cramping a little bit. It’s normal. I was sweating a lot. She played very well. In the end, she was a little bit stronger.”
Second-seeded Petra Kvitova had no such problems, winning the last eight games to oust Viktoria Kuzmova 6-4, 6-0 to book her spot in the last four. Kvitova, the 2013 Dubai champion, needed just 62 minutes to wrap up the win. She will next face Su-wei Hsieh of Taiwan, who came from 5-1 down in the final set to beat fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 1-6, 7-5. It was the latest upset for Hsieh, who ousted Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber on Wednesday.
In the final quarterfinal, two-time defending champion Elina Svitolina of Ukraine defeated Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-2, 6-3 to set up a meeting with Bencic. It’s the fourth year in a row that Svitolina makes the semifinals in Dubai, although she had to come from a break down in each set to get past Suarez Navarro.