Halep marches on in Sydney, Puig dumps out Stosur


Simona Halep again demonstrated that her injury problems appear to be behind her by beating Karolina Pliskova in straight sets to reach the Sydney International semi-finals.

The world number two withdrew from the Brisbane International in Queensland last week due to an Achilles problem, but saw off Pliskova 6-4 7-5 after overcoming Caroline Garcia in the second round.

Top seed Halep came up with 22 winners and made 33 unforced errors to Pliskova's 43 to move a step closer to winning her first tournament of the year ahead of the Australian Open, which starts next week.

The Romanian raced into a 5-1 lead in the first set and although Pliskova claimed one break back she was unable to mount a fightback, with the favourite then wrapping up the victory despite failing to hold twice in the second set.

Halep said: "It was tough today. It was very close. I was leading in the first set, 5-1, but she came back really strong.

"She did two games in a row at zero - I know she's been playing tough, she's playing well, and she's strong with her serve, and I expected she was going to hit the balls well today."

Halep will face Svetlana Kuznetsova in the semi-finals after the former world number two mounted an incredible first-set fightback and went on to beat Sara Errani 7-6 (7-1) 6-0.

Kuznetsova was 5-1 down in the opening set and saved three set-points before winning four games in a row and then coming out on top in the tie-break. Errani failed to recover, going out with a whimper as she was brushed aside in the second set.

Qualifier Monica Puig surprised home favourite Samantha Stosur 6-4 6-4 and will take on Belinda Bencic in the last four after the eighth seed beat Ekaterina Makarova in three sets.