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The Australian Open in 2018: Halep and Kerber marching to the quarterfinals

The Australian Open in 2018: Halep and Kerber marching to the quarterfinals

The Czech trails in the head-to-head though will fancy her chances if she maintains this level.

World No.1 Simona Halep credits Australian coach Darren Cahill for helping her set up a heavyweight Melbourne semi-final with a straight-sets mauling of Karolina Pliskova.

"The last we played in Paris I think it was very close", Pliskova said of the prospects of meeting Halep for a place in the semi-final.

There, however, it was the 20th seed who took control, taking an early minibreak and eventually converting a second set point to go a set away from a second major quarterfinal. I forgot to ask him how she plays, I actually had no plan to go on the court. "I am not stressing that much before the matches and trying to start the matches with pleasure and fun and being happy on court". Her fightback and exceptional ability to return balls built huge amount of pressure on Pliskova and the Czech's big serve began to betray her.

The first quarter-final was a similar clash of styles and again it was the counter-puncher who came out on top, and even more emphatically, with Kerber blasting to a 6-1 6-2 victory over Madison Keys in just 51 minutes.

Simona Halep's road to the Australian Open semifinals hasn't been an easy one. "I have to get my mindset ready for this". I have to dominate the match and try to finish the point.

Halep has won five of their previous six career meetings, including a tight three-set triumph in the semis past year at Roland Garros. "Next time I knew I had to play everything better". But I'm not thinking about that any more.

A double fault and 2 forehand errors cost Karolina another service game while serving at 2-5 and that break pushed Simona over the finish line, cruising through the semis and looking to maintain this level against a former victor Angelique Kerber as well.

Halep sealed the win with a powerful return to the baseline that Pliskova could do nothing about but slam into the net.

"I'm feeling the ball really good and I was enjoying the match", the 30-year-old said.

He spent six months off the tour past year with a right elbow injury and said he waited until just before the tournament began to decide if he was fit enough to play.

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