World No. 1 Simona Halep on Wednesday punched her ticket to the Indian Wells semi-finals with a 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3 win over Croatia’s Petra Martic.
The 26-year-old Halep improved to 18-1 on the season and is looking to win her second WTA Tour title of the year.
Halep, of Romania, needed 2 hours, 23 minutes to put Martic away under taxing conditions as strong winds swirled around the main stadium court.
“It was difficult conditions to play in today because of the wind,” she said. “It was tough to play, because the ball was really moving, but I just tried everything. I tried also to push a little bit the ball and then to hit it. I tried to mix it up. Was not easy at all. For both of us it was difficult.”
Halep moves on to the semi-finals where she is to face Japan’s Naomi Osaka, who beat fifth-seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 6-3.
Halep is guaranteed to hold onto her No. 1 ranking at the end of this event after world No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki was eliminated on Tuesday.
Halep blasted two aces and broke Martic’s serve four times.
“I just fought and that’s maybe why I won because I refuse to lose,” Halep said.
Halep won the final five games of the third set after being broken once and falling behind 3-1 early.
The turning point in the third set came for Halep after she won a challenge in the eighth game with Martic holding serve. On the very next point Martic hit a forehand wide as Halep took the game and a 5-3 set lead.
Halep then served for the match, winning five of the final six points after the challenge.
Halep said her early struggles in the final set were from nerves and frustration with the playing conditions.
“I calmed myself down a little bit more and I just was more focused on what I have to do and not thinking that much about the wind and what is going on on court,” she said. “I just fought till the end, and I think that’s why I could win.”
Halep is seeking her second Indian Wells title after beating Jelena Jankovic in 2015.
In the evening session, world No. 44 Osaka broke Pliskova’s serve six times in her 78-minute upset on the main stadium court.
“I returned the ball well,” Osaka said. “She is one of the best servers on tour and I was able to break her quite a few times so I am really happy about that.”
Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and the Czech Republic’s Barbora Strycova were due to take on Canada’s Gabriela Dabrowski and China’s Xu Yifan in the women’s doubles semi-finals at 2am today Taiwan time.
World No. 1 Roger Federer on Wednesday advanced to today’s quarter-finals with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Jeremy Chardy.
The 36-year-old surrendered just three points on serve in the opening set and took control of the second with a cross-court backhand winner that broke Chardy when tied at 4-4.
“I like his play. He hits it big, has a big serve, big forehand,” said Federer, a five-time champion at Indian Wells. “The wind picked up, so you never know what’s going to happen, but I think we played really good tennis for most of the match.”
Federer needed just 1 hour, 22 minutes to move to 15-0 for the year. The last time he began a season 15-0 was in 2006, when he finished the year with 12 titles and three Grand Slams.
Federer is to face South Korea’s Chung Hyeon, who defeated Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas 6-1, 6-3. It will be a rematch of their Australian Open semi-final in January, when Chung had to retire due to blistered feet.
Juan Martin del Potro, a runner-up in Indian Wells in 2013, battled a bad back to outlast Leonardo Mayer 3-6, 7-6 (7/2) 6-3.
“I was surprised by Mayer’s level today,” Del Potro said. “I think I was very smart during the tiebreak. After that I turned the match around and took control of the points.”
Next up for the Argentine is Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber, who advanced with a 6-4, 7-6 (7/1) win over France’s Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
Kevin Anderson beat Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8/6), the South African recording 16 aces in a victory that took him to a last eight tie against Croatian Borna Coric, who defeated American Taylor Fritz 6-2, 6-7 (6/8), 6-4.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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