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Ruthless Halep hits back to beat hobbling Keys

Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 4/7/16 Romania's Simona Halep in action against USA's Madison Keys REUTERS/Tony O'Brien
Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 4/7/16 Romania's Simona Halep in action against USA's Madison Keys REUTERS/Tony O'Brien

By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - Romanian fifth seed Simona Halep recovered to beat an emotional and hobbling Madison Keys 6-7(5) 6-4 6-3 and reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the second time in her career on Monday.

The 24-year-old was heading out when she fell a break behind in the second set, having squandered four set points to surrender the opener, but she battled back and then took ruthless advantage as Keys appeared to suffer a leg injury.

She will play Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber in the last eight.

The first eight games were full of high-quality clean hitting, before a strange sequence of games saw both players go off the boil in equal measure.

Halep broke when she lunged to reach a poor Keys volley and scooped the ball inadvertently over the 21-year-old American's head.

But she let her opponent off the hook, double-faulting on two of the four set points that came her way when she served at 5-4 in the opening set. Keys also saved one with a sizzling backhand return of serve.

Immediately Halep broke the powerful Keys serve to love, but once again faltered at 6-5 as the American flashed a forehand winner, one of 16 in the match, to take the opener into a tiebreak.

Ninth seed Keys, the youngest player to reach the fourth round this year, surged ahead in the breaker and claimed it 7-5 with another crunching forehand winner into an open court.

When Halep double-faulted and then sent a backhand long to drop serve at the start of the second set and Keys held with a huge ace to lead 2-0 the end looked nigh.

But Halep, whose semi-final appearance two years ago disguises an ordinary Wimbledon record, is made of sterner stuff and worked her way back, breaking back in the fourth game as the errors returned to the Keys game.

Keys netted a forehand to hand the second set to a resurgent Halep and the decider became an ordeal for the American as she looked in discomfort and close to tears with a leg injury.

Surprisingly Keys, playing some shots off one leg, did not call for the trainer and Halep calmly moved 5-3 ahead, sealing victory when Keys belted a forehand out.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Ken Ferris)

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