Fri, Jan 17, 2020 - Page 16 News List

Halep ousted in Adelaide quarter-final

UPHILL START:The 71-minute defeat to Aryna Sabalenka leaves Wimbledon champ Simona Halep standing 1-1 with the first Grand Slam of the year starting on Monday

AFP, ADELAIDE, Australia

Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus serves to Simona Halep of Romania during their Adelaide International women’s singles quarter-final at Memorial Drive Park in Australia yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Two-time Grand Slam winner Simona Halep is to head into the Australian Open with room for improvement after being upset 6-4, 6-2 by Aryna Sabalenka yesterday at the Adelaide International.

The reigning Wimbledon champion and former world No. 1 from Romania dropped serve five times and was flattened in the second set by her opponent from Belarus.

The 71-minute rout leaves Halep standing 1-1 for the season with the first Grand Slam of the year starting on Monday in Melbourne.

Today, Sabalenka faces Dayana Yastremska of the Ukraine for a place in the final after the 19-year-old beat a second top-20 opponent this week when she put out Croatia’s Donna Vekic 6-4, 6-3.

Sabalenka won her first match against Halep after racking up two losses.

“It feels great. We had a tough match and she played well,” Sabalenka said. “I tried to stay focused on each point. I stayed in the moment and that helped me to win.”

In the first set, Halep twice lost a break advantage, with Sabalenka coming through with a third break of serve in the final game on a double fault from Halep.

Although Halep drew applause as she finally won a game in the second set, Sabalenka fired a winning return to seal match point.

Yastremska, ranked 24th, was thrilled to get past Vekic.

“It’s nice to be in the semi-finals just in the beginning of the year,” she said. “I’m just getting my form. I have a big goal for Australia.”

In men’s play, South Africa’s Lloyd Harris beat fourth seed Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 6-3, 6-3 to advance to the semi-finals.

Alex de Minaur pulled out of the Adelaide International and the Australian Open with an abdominal tear, describing it as “really serious.”

“It’s not great — not going to lie. Obviously it’s a week of the calendar that I really look forward to ... so it’s pretty devastating to miss out on my home Slam,” said De Minaur, the world No. 21 and Australia’s top player.

HOBART INTERNATIONAL

Two-time major winner Garbine Muguruza yesterday withdrew from her quarter-final match at the Hobart International with a viral illness. Second-seeded Muguruza was to play Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova, who is to receive a walkover and advance to the semi-finals.

ASB CLASSIC

World No. 13 Denis Shapovalov of Canada yesterday crashed out of the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, beaten in straight sets by qualifier Ugo Humbert of France.

There was only one break in each set of the evenly contested clash, with Humbert clinching the victory with Shapovalov’s sixth double fault to win 7-5, 6-4.

“I’m really, really happy. It’s one of the biggest wins of my career,” the 57th-ranked Humbert said as he advanced to a semi-final showdown with big-serving John Isner of the US. “I tried to play each ball. I tried to stay focused and my plans were working.”

Isner survived on his thunderous serve with an impressive 25 aces to overcome Kyle Edmund of Britain in the opening quarter-final.

While Edmund had the better of the fourth seed for much of the match, Isner served his way out of trouble when it mattered. Edmund was unable to convert any of his nine break points.

Both sets went to a tiebreak before Isner won 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/5) and expressed relief at making the final four.

“I know I was a bit fortunate to win today. That’s how tennis goes, but I’m happy I’m in the semi-finals,” the two-time Auckland champion said. “That match point, I played it very aggressively and very well. Winning a match like this can give me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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