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By Tennis Now | Friday, August 17, 2018

Simona Halep

Simona Halep scored her eighth straight win and will face red-hot Aryna Sabalenka for a spot in the Cincinnati final.

Photo credit: Western & Southern Open Facebook

A streaking Simona Halep showed a strong closing kick charging into her fourth straight Cincinnati semifinal.

The top-ranked Romanian rallied from 1-4 down, reeling off 11 of the final 12 games to dismiss Lesia Tsurenko, 6-4, 6-1.

Kvitova: Davis Cup Changes Sad

Halep hit 11 winners raising her record to 45-7 on the season.

It was Halep's eighth straight victory and came hours after she defeated Ashleigh Barty, 7-5, 6-2, in her morning third-round match.

Staring down a triple break-point deficit in the sixth game, Halep found her range and rhythm and rolled past Tsurenko for the fifth time in as many meetings.

The Rogers Cup champion will try to continue her roll against 34th-ranked Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka in tomorrow's semifinals.

Halep is trying to make history as the first woman to win Montreal and Cincinnati in succession.

A strong-willed Sabalenka staved off 10 break points sweeping 13th-seeded American Madison Keys, 6-3, 6-4.

Sabalenka continues his strong surge through the field.

It's been a dynamic Cincinnati debut for Sabalenka, who fought off match points upsetting ninth-seeded Karolina Pliskova in the second round and fifth-seeded Caroline Garcia in the round of 16.

The 20-year-old Sabalenka opened the tournament knocking off former Wimbledon semifinalist Johanna Konta, before dispatching three straight seeds to reach her third semifinal of the season.

Sabalenka will play for her fifth career Top 10 win against Halep tomorrow.

"It will be tough," Sabalenka said of facing Halep. "She's the first, and she's a great player, good fighter. She's moving really god. She didn't miss a lot. She put all the balls in. So it's gonna be so tough for me. But I will do my best."

Steamy summer days in Cincinnati never appealed to Petra Kvitova, who suffers from asthma that can be exacerbated in heat and humidity.

A focused Kvitova conquered Elise Mertens, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3, advancing to her sixth semifinal of the season—and surprising herself in the process.

It is Kvitova's first Cincinnati semifinal in six years.

"I'm just surprised, probably. It wasn't really my favorite place to play here, unfortunately," Kvitova said. "It's not because of the fans but it was because of the humidity, which we do have, but I don't know.

I just probably feel that I'm kind of improving on everything, like, on the clay, as I played this year, or I won some great matches on the hard court, as well. I just do feel that my consistency of the game and my level of the game, it's a little bit higher.

"So I'm glad that it's paying off even here when I don't feel good. So I do have my asthma, so in this kind of condition it's not really great. I'm still able to kind of play those rallies, as we did today, I'm exhausted, but my breath was fine, and it's probably connection with my fitness as I improve that, as well."

The left-handed Czech, who opened the tournament knocking off 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, will face Kiki Bertens for the second time in as many weeks for a spot in Sunday's final.

"When Petra is on fire, she can beat anyone or she's winning," Bertens said. "So it doesn't matter. But last week was pretty tough, like, tough circumstances with the wind, which she doesn't really like.

"So I was just playing as many balls in the court there. I was serving good, and tomorrow I have to do the same. So just focus on the serve, trying to hit as many balls in the court with a lot of quality. So, yeah, it's not going to be easy."

The 17th-ranked Bertens beat Elina Svitolina, 6-4, 6-3, for her second win of the day and second Top 10 triumph of the tournament.

Bertens, who defeated Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki in round two, is playing for her second title of the season.

It will be third clash between Bertens and Kvitova this season.

The two-time Wimbledon winner prevailed in the Madrid final, 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-3, before Bertens gained a measure of revenge stamping a 6-3, 6-2, triumph in Montreal last week.

"She improved a lot," Kvitova said of Bertens. "I don't know which kind of side of her game she improve the match, but overall she's serving big, and that's of course when we are serving better, then we are making a little bit easier points and it's just tough to break. But definitely, I mean, it's one of those players who really get improved a lot the season."


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