French Open: Halep roars back against Svitolina to reach semi-finals
Roland Garros, Paris, France. June 7, 2017. Ukraine's Elina Svitolina in action during her quarter final match against Romania's Simona Halep. Photograph: (Reuters)
Former French Open runner-up Simona Halep staged a remarkable fightback and saved a match point to reach the semi-finals with a 3-6 7-6(6) 6-0 win over Elina Svitolina on Wednesday.
Romanian third seed Halep trailed by a set and 5-1 against the hard-hitting fifth seed but somehow dug herself out of a hole before storming to victory to set up a semi-final against Czech second seed Karolina Pliskova.
Ukrainian Svitolina saved four set points at 5-6 in the second and then had a match point in the tiebreak which Halep saved with a brave backhand winner that kissed the sideline.
A rejuvenated Halep clinched the second set with a forehand winner and predictably swept through the decider as Svitolina's spirit sagged, sealing victory with an ace.
Halep will play second-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova in the last four, while in the other half of the draw Latvian teenager Jelena Ostapenko will take on Swiss Timea Bacsinszky.
Of all the quarter-finalists, none of whom had won a major, Halep looked the more likely champion with her claycourt pedigree and a run to the 2014 final when she was beaten by Russian Maria Sharapova.
If she needed any more incentive, she can become world number one by winning the title.
Yet when the match started in front of a Suzanne Lenglen court crowd that had just witnessed men's champion Novak Djokovic being routed by Dominic Thiem, Halep looked to be going out of the tournament in sympathy with the Serb.
While there was no obvious sign of the ankle problem the 25-year-old sustained in Rome, she could not get going and slumped 5-0 down before clawing three games back to make the set respectable at least.
But Svitolina, bidding to become Ukraine's first female grand slam semi-finalist after a stellar year in which she has won four titles, charged into a 5-1 lead in the second set.
Again Halep showed her mettle to stay alive but it still seemed in vain until she levelled at 5-5 and then went 40-0 up on Svitolina's serve before the Ukrainian rallied to take the set into a tiebreak.
Once Halep saved the match point, though, the momentum switched completely her way and she polished off the deciding set in 20 minutes.