Halep fightback keeps French Open hopes alive
World number one Simona Halep is closing in on a second consecutive grand slam final appearance after she defeated Angelique Kerber 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 6-2 in the last eight of the French Open.
Halep has never won a major but is well placed to earn another shot at improving that record, having lost to Caroline Wozniacki in the Australian Open decider earlier this year.
The Romanian was made to work for her win on Court Suzanne Lenglen, but her class shone through, staving off a defeat that would have seen her lose her place at the top of the rankings.
That is still a possibility, with Halep facing rival Garbine Muguruza in the semi-finals, and the winner will secure top spot, yet her focus at Roland Garros will remain on ending her grand slam hoodoo.
A third French Open final is in the 26-year-old's sights and surviving a tough test provided by Kerber should encourage confidence.
Halep made a sloppy start and handed the German the advantage straight away, before succumbing to a fifth break point in her next service game.
Kerber had looked to be in ruthless form in the opening exchanges, but she too showed signs of fragility as Halep found her feet, losing the two-break lead through a combination of unforced errors and the top seed's brilliance.
The tournament favourite fought back again when Kerber won the second of two lengthy rallies to edge in front once more, yet Halep's hard work was undone in a one-sided tie-break in which she repeatedly found the net.
But Halep made a faster start to the second set, breaking swiftly, holding under pressure and then pushing for another gain in a series of gutsy marathon games.
So impressive was Halep's work to clinch the set and draw level in the match that she had Kerber applauding at one stage, but it was back to business in the third.
Kerber struggled to halt a now rampant Halep, though, restoring parity after losing a break to love but then slipping behind once more, with the Romanian piling on the pressure.
Another break ensured it was comfortable in the end for Halep, who has Muguruza up next in an exciting last-four clash.