Halep growing in confidence as Dubai quarters are finalised
Simona Halep's fine form continued at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Wednesday as she brushed aside Lesia Tsurenko, but fellow seed Angelique Kerber was sent crashing out.
Halep reached the final in Doha last week and looks set to go similarly deep at this Premier 5 event after booking a last-eight spot in the United Arab Emirates.
She will meet Belinda Bencic next, while the top half of the draw is completed by Carla Suarez Navarro and defending champion Elina Svitolina.
Kerber was a surprise casualty as Hsieh Su-wei earned an impressive third-round victory, while there were also wins for Karolina Pliskova, Viktoria Kuzmova and Petra Kvitova.
HALEP FEELING CONFIDENT
Halep has yet to drop a set in her two matches in Dubai, the Romanian making up ground on world number one Naomi Osaka in the rankings with Wednesday's 6-3 7-5 win.
It is the second time in a week that Halep has knocked out Tsurenko and she feels at the top of her game heading into a last-eight meeting with Bencic - who saved six match points before beating Aryna Sabalenka 6-4 2-6 7-6 (9-7).
"I feel close to my highest level," Halep told a media conference after the win. "My mindset now is just to finish the points as quick as possible. I'm trying to be more aggressive.
"I'm more relaxed. I don't put pressure on myself. Also, I have no expectations. When I feel that, I play better."
KERBER HUMBLED BY HSIEH
While Halep moved past round three, Kerber's tournament came to an abrupt halt against the unorthodox Hsieh.
Hsieh came from a set down to beat the Wimbledon champion 5-7 6-4 6-0, her first win over the German in three attempts.
"I don't really win a lot of matches [here]," said Hsieh. "Every time I come and win a match I get excited.
"I just need to try to play my game and be happy on the court, be positive."
She will meet Pliskova in the quarter-finals after the fourth seed battled past Alison Riske 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-5).
SVITOLINA MARCHES ON
Double defending champion Svitolina kept alive her hopes of a third straight crown with a comprehensive 6-1 6-2 victory over Garbine Muguruza.
That 62-minute win set up a meeting with Suarez Navarro following the Spaniard's 7-5 7-5 triumph over Kristina Mladenovic – who knocked out Osaka on Tuesday.
The last quarter-final sees 2013 champion Kvitova face Kuzmova, the pair both needing three sets to see off Jennifer Brady and Sofia Kenin respectively.