Simona Halep has reached the Wimbledon semifinals for the first time since 2014 with a 7-6 (4), 6-1 victory over Shuai Zhang. The Romanian, seeded seventh at the All-England Club fell behind quickly, trailing 3-0 and 4-1 before retrieving the deficit to edge out a first set tiebreaker.
Halep, who had lost two of her three previous meetings against Zhang, including their lone previous meeting at a Grand Slam at the 2016 Australian Open, ran away with the second set, claiming the last four games of the match on No. 1 Court to set up a last four clash with eighth seed Elina Svitolina for a place in the final.
Halep struggles through first set, cruises in second to seal semifinal berth
Zhang was quick out of the blocks, jumping out to a 3-0 lead, aided by a break in the second game when she drove a forehand into the open court to secure the advantage. The Chinese's penetrating groundstrokes were proving to be tough to handle for Halep early on and she was soon behind 4-1.
The turning point in the match came in the next sequence as the Romanian saved break points that would have seen her trail 5-1. After a hold, she sizzled a crosscourt forehand to set up a break point and watched as Zhang double-faulted to put the set back on serve.
Each player held for the remainder of the set, Zhang with a pair of love holds and Halep dropping just four points on three service games as a tiebreaker loomed. The first seven points featured four minibreaks and a fifth, set up by a Halep forehand gave her a 5-3 lead. On set point, she stung another forehand for a winner to steal the first set.
Demoralized by losing a set she knows she should have won, Zhang was broken in the fourth game when yet another Halep forehand was too much to handle and the Chinese could only dump her own forehand into the bottom of the net to give the seventh seed a 3-1 edge.
Although fighting, Zhang was again broken in the sixth game to give Halep a 5-1 lead. Serving for the match, the Romanian quickly got to 40-15. On her first match point, a shot by the Chinese just landed inside the line, no reply from the Romanian.
On her second chance, a forehand winner wrapped up the match and sent Halep on her way to her seventh career Grand Slam semifinal.