SYDNEY (Reuters) – World number two Simona Halep continued her preparations for next week’s Australian Open by booking a semi-final berth at the Sydney International with a gritty straight-sets win over Karolina Pliskova on Wednesday.
The Romanian withdrew from the Brisbane International last week because of a nagging Achilles injury, which also affected her 2015 campaign, and played through pain on Tuesday night in her second-round match against Caroline Garcia of France.
Pliskova did not make it any easier for Halep, twice the Czech fighting back before the top seed won 6-4 7-5 to set up a last-four clash against Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova.
The Czech player rallied from 5-1 down in the first set and in the second set made it 4-4 from 4-2 down before the 24-year-old Halep prevailed.
Kuznetsova made a slow start in her match against Italian Sara Errani and fell 5-1 down in the first set before fighting back to win 7-6(1) 6-0.
The 24-year-old Halep is one of four leading women players heading to the year’s first grand slam, which begins in Melbourne on Monday, under an injury cloud.
World number one Serena Williams (knee), fifth-ranked Maria Sharapova (arm) and number three Garbine Muguruza (foot) all withdrew from matches in the last week.
(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Patrick Johnston)