Three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber rallied from a set down to overcome Czech Barbora Strycova 1-6 6-2 7-6(4) to advance to the semifinals of the Qatar Total Open in Doha.
The win sees Kerber reach her first semifinal since her Wimbledon triumph in July.
In the semis she will face Belgian Elise Mertens, who overcame No.5 seed Kiki Bertens 6-4 6-3.
Kerber’s Australian Open campaign in January ended in one of the worst defeats of her career when she won only two games against Danielle Collins but has put it behind her in Doha.
Both players converted five break points in a riveting contest but it was Kerber who kept her composure in the decisive tiebreak, after letting slip a 3-0 lead in the final set.
The two-hour, seven-minute victory improved her head-to-head record to 8-1 against Strycova.
— Qatar Tennis Fed. (@QatarTennis) February 14, 2019
Kerber was joined in the last four in Doha by top seed Simona Halep, who battled past German Julia Goerges 7-6(1) 7-6(6) to set up a semifinal clash with Ukrainian Elina Svitolina.
Playing in her first tournament with new coach Thierry Van Cleemput, Halep raced to a 4-0 lead in the opening set before her ninth-seeded opponent fought back to force a tiebreak.
Goerges threatened with an early break in the second set but Halep’s relentless accuracy from the baseline proved the difference as the Romanian closed out the win in just over two hours on Thursday.
Fourth seed Svitolina swept aside Czech qualifier Karolina Muchova 6-4 6-2 to move into her first semifinal of the season.
Svitolina broke her opponent twice in each set, winning 78 per cent of points on first serve.
Muchova, who has enjoyed a breakthrough week to reach her first WTA quarter-final, was undone by 25 unforced errors, allowing Svitolina to clinch an 82-minute victory.
“She’s not as a typical young player because most of the players now that are coming up are smashing the ball,” Svitolina said.
“She has lots of variety in her game, and that’s, I think, very good for tennis.”
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