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Ons Jabeur downs Simona Halep to reach semifinals in Madrid Open

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Madrid, May 4 (IANS) Ons Jabeur of Tunisia defeated two-time champion Simona Halep in straight sets 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals of Madrid Open here on Wednesday.

The victory puts No. 8 seed Jabeur into her second WTA 1000 semifinal following Indian Wells 2021, and the Charleston final a month ago.

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The Tunisian’s record on hard courts across the first three months of the year, which were hampered by a back injury that forced her out of the Australian Open, was 8-5; since the Hologic WTA Tour moved to clay, she has gone 10-2 and counting.

The result is also Jabeur’s first completed win over Halep, who won Madrid in 2016 and 2017. Previously, she had defeated the Romanian via retirement in the first round of Beijing 2018, but Halep had won two subsequent encounters at Dubai 2020 and Dubai 2022.

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Not only will a new Madrid winner be crowned in Saturday’s final, but a brand new WTA 1000 champion. None of the remaining players in the field have captured a title above 250 level; and 2021 Cincinnati runner-up Jil Teichmann is the only one to have contested a WTA 1000 final previously.

Jabeur will face either Ekaterina Alexandrova or Amanda Anisimova in the last four.

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Jabeur dazzled throughout in every facet of the game. She conjured 25 winners, a good proportion of which were casually flicked dropshots that drew gasps from the crowd.

Leading 3-2, 40-0 in the second set and in complete control, Jabeur tried to be too cute with an easy putaway, allowing Halep to loft a winning lob and get back to deuce. But successful Jabeur dropshots staved off break-back point and sealed the crucial hold for 4-2.

Halep, meanwhile, was undone by 20 unforced errors to only eight winners. The World No.21 never found her range consistently, with her forehand going off the boil for a long stretch in the first set and her backhand letting her down in the home stretch, including the netted short ball on match point.

–IANS

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