Simona Halep’s injury-plagued start to the season continued on Friday as a lingering foot injury forced her out of the Qatar Open as Caroline Wozniacki advanced to the semi-finals and ensured she kept her world No. 1 ranking.
A clearly frustrated Halep said she needed further time away from the game to recuperate, despite a 6-0, 6-4 victory in her quarter-final against teenage qualifier Catherine Bellis of the US.
On a dramatic night in Doha, Wozniacki won 7-6 (7/4), 1-6, 6-3 against Germany’s Angelique Kerber to progress to the last four, a result which also means she becomes just the fourth woman in history to pass US$30 million in prize money.
Meanwhile, Germany’s Julia Georges was forced to retire with an injury when she was 6-4, 2-1 down to Petra Kvitova and Garbine Muguruza was handed a walkover to the final — and gets a day’s rest — because of the withdrawal of Halep after beating France’s Caroline Garcia 6-3, 1-6, 6-4.
However, it was the blow to the world No. 2 which was the main talking point of the night.
The injury to her right foot had forced Halep out since the Australian Open, where she lost the final to Wozniacki.
Doha represented Halep’s comeback after she also withdrew from a Fed Cup tie earlier this month.
Earlier in the week, Halep admitted she was worried about the injury flaring up again and despite her victory on Friday, she admitted it would once again sideline her.
“I withdraw because I cannot play anymore and it’s going to be dangerous if I force it,” Halep told reporters. “Today it was worse and that’s why I took this decision. It’s not easy, but I talked to my doctor. He said that I didn’t have enough time to recover. The MRI shows that I have fluid and also tendonitis at the fourth toe. So I have just to take care of it and thinking about the health first.”
Halep added she would not return to action until next month at the earliest.
By contrast, Wozniacki continued her sensational start to the season by beating two-time Grand Slam winner Kerber in three sets.
Wozniacki hit 46 winners in the process.
Asked about keeping her place at the top of the world rankings, she replied: “It feels good, but honestly I’m just happy to have won today. I’m more interested in that and then whatever happens, happens.”
Wozniacki admitted she was envious of Muguruza’s bye.
“I wish I had a day off tomorrow,” she said.
Wozniacki was due to play Kvitova in the last four yesterday.
It would be the fourth time they have met in a semi-final, the Czech winning all three previous encounters.
With nine of the world’s top 10 women in Doha this week, Kvitova has passed under the radar somewhat, but has now won 11 consecutive matches, the second highest streak of her career.
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