Halep stages remarkable comeback
Originally published on 07/06/17 00:00
The tournament favourite trailed 1-5 in the second set however she showed tremendous grit and determination to somehow force a tiebreak – which she was able to win after saving a match point.
The Ukrainian never recovered from the disappointment of conceding the second set and Halep eased over the winning line to set up a last four clash with Karolina Pliskova.
Svitolina was the aggressor in the early stages and she controlled the tempo with her crosscourt forehand. The Romanian was subdued and thoroughly outplayed in a one-sided opener.
The second set followed a similar pattern. Svitolina continued to force the issue and Halep was unable to muster a satisfactory response. Time was running out for the tournament favourite, but she remained engaged in battle.
Leading 5-1, Svitolina was on the brink of reaching her first Grand Slam semi-final, but she struggled to close out the match. Halep sensed the nervousness in her opponent and slowly began to claw her way back into the set.
The extended rallies were beginning to go the way of Halep, and she was soon back in contention. A tense tiebreak was required to split the pair and a fortunate net-cord gave the Romanian parity on the scoreboard.
Svitolina, who was unable to convert a match-point in the breaker, was out-of-sorts in the decider as her French Open dream quickly turned into a nightmare.
"I don’t know how I came back,” admitted Halep. “It was really tough, she was playing hard and strong. I was a little bit lucky with the way I won the second set tiebreak, when the ball hit the net.
"I think I was strong mentally, I didn’t give up. That’s maybe why I won this match. I felt the energy from the crowd in the tiebreak. I feel okay, a little bit tired to be honest. But I’m okay and ready to play the semi-finals.”
Pliskova is through to her first French Open semi-final after a hard-earned 7-6(3) 6-4 success over Caroline Garcia.The Czech was unflustered by the vocal crowd and she a delivered an impressive performance to end French hopes of a local winner.
In a high-quality first set, Pliskova was rock solid while Garcia’s level fluctuated from point to point. The Frenchwoman did well to fight back from 3-5 down to force a tiebreak, but the Czech lasered a backhand winner down the line to claim the opening stanza.
The second set was serve-orientated. Both players raced through service holds and another tiebreak loomed large, however the Czech made her move in the tenth game. With the Frenchwoman serving to stay in the match, Pliskova thumped a pair of forehand winners to wrap up the win in ruthless fashion.
"It was very tough,” remarked the No.2 seed. ‘She [Garcia] played very well, we were both serving well. She played a great tournament, even today, it was 50-50. It came down to about two points, and I’m really glad I made it. I am very happy. Before the tournament I wasn’t sure if I could play good tennis on clay."