Halep too good for surprise quarter-finalist Bellis in Doha
Simona Halep halted CiCi Bellis' sensational run at the Qatar Open, reaching the semi-finals with a surprisingly testing 6-0 6-4 win.
While Halep breezed through the early rounds of the tournament in Doha, the form of the unseeded Bellis has been one of the stories of the week, with the teenager beating Madison Keys and defending champion Karolina Pliskova to reach this stage.
There would be no repeat 24 hours later, though, as Halep dominated the first set and scraped through the second to inch closer to a final rematch with Australian Open foe and world number one Caroline Wozniacki.
Bellis' serve was broken in the very first game and, although the American fought hard in an attempt hold off Halep at 2-0, two further breaks followed.
The opening set was wrapped up in a little over half an hour by the world number two, who showed no mercy as she looked to continue to school the 18-year-old on centre court.
A sensational rally ended with a seventh straight game in the bag for Halep, but Bellis responded to level with a break of her own and the teenager had the crowd on their feet as she started to go toe-to-toe with the Romanian.
The underdog saved four break points at 2-2 and then went on the offensive, pushing Halep in a marathon sixth game, which saw the second seed fend off no fewer than six break-point openings to hold.
The game became understandably ragged after such a ferocious battle, but Halep regained her composure to convert match point at the second time of asking and book a last-four meeting with Garbine Muguruza.
"It was a tough match even if the first set was easier - [Bellis] is a great opponent," said Halep, whose win piled pressure onto Wozniacki - following her onto the court - to match her result and retain her place at the top of the rankings.