Halep douses Zhang fire to reach Wimbledon semis

Former world number one Simona Halep had to negotiate a first-set crisis but saw off Zhang Shuai to make the Wimbledon semi-finals.

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Simona Halep came through a gripping first-set examination to see off China’s Zhang Shuai 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 and book a place in the semi-finals of Wimbledon for the first time since 2014.

Halep, the highest-ranked player left in the draw, is chasing a second career grand slam but had to weather a considerable storm against outsider Zhang.

A break down, the world number seven escaped a marathon sixth game to halt Zhang’s momentum before stealing the opener on a tie-break.

After those absorbing first 58 minutes, the second set was a more serene affair and Halep will face either Elina Svitolina or Karolina Muchova as she bids to reach a maiden final at the All England Club.

Zhang had never won a main draw match at Wimbledon until this year but, having already seen off seeds Caroline Garcia and Caroline Wozniacki, raced into a 3-0 lead in just over 10 minutes on Number One Court.

A pinpoint backhand into the back-right corner was the jewel in the 30-year-old’s early break as her powerful, flat groundstrokes exuded composure and authority.

Halep’s forehand was misfiring, and she had to negotiate a considerable crisis at 1-4, scrambling to save four break points and eventually hold.

The high-class and gruelling rallies required to do so appeared to play the 2018 French Open champion into form and Zhang coughed up a break in the next game with a double fault.

The set remained on serve from that point and Halep managed to keep her opponent’s relentless attacks at arm’s length to take the breaker 7-4.

If the Romanian star had a sense the storm had passed, it was confirmed when Zhang sent a tame forehand into the net to be broken for 3-1.

Halep consolidated with a hold to love and the world number 50 was predictably unable to relocate her sparkling earlier form.

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Simona Halep [7] bt. Zhang Shuai 7-6 (7-4) 6-1

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Halep – 17/13
Zhang – 22/29

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Halep – 1/1
Zhang – 1/2

BREAK POINTS WON
Halep – 3/6
Zhang – 1/5

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Halep – 76
Zhang – 71

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Halep – 72/44
Zhang – 67/41

TOTAL POINTS
Halep – 74
Zhang – 61

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