Gritty Halep forced to dig deep as she sets up Svitolina battle
Top seed Simona Halep battled past German Julia Goerges 7-6(1) 7-6(6) in the Qatar Open to set up a semi-final clash against Ukrainian Elina Svitolina.
Playing in her first tournament with new coach Thierry Van Cleemput, Halep raced to a 4-0 lead in the opening set before her ninth-seeded opponent fought back to force a tiebreak.
Goerges threatened with an early break in the second set but Halep's relentless accuracy from the baseline proved the difference as the Romanian closed out the win in just over two hours.
Fourth seed Svitolina swept aside Czech qualifier Karolina Muchova 6-4 6-2 to move into her first semi-final of the season.
Svitolina broke her opponent twice in each set, winning 78% of points on her first serve in a commanding display.
Muchova, who has enjoyed a breakthrough week to reach her first WTA quarter-final, was undone by her 25 unforced errors, allowing Svitolina to clinch an 82-minute victory.
"She's (Muchova) not as a typical young player, because most of the players now are smashing the ball," Svitolina said.
"She has lots of variety in her game, and that's good for tennis."
Angelique Kerber rallied to beat Barbora Strycova 1-6 6-2 7-6(4), reaching her first semi-final since her Wimbledon triumph.