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By Chris Oddo | Friday May 19, 2017

Is Simona Halep peaking too early or just at the right time? Those questions will be answered in a few weeks, when the French Open rounds the bend to its second week, but for now the smoking-hot Romanian can take comfort in the fact that she is finding ways to win on the clay.

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Halep took down Estonian qualifier Anett Kontaveit, 6-2, 6-4, to notch her ninth consecutive win and her 25th in her last 29 on the surface.

The No.6-seeded Halep will move on to face No.15-seeded Kiki Bertens in Saturday’s semifinals at Rome. Bertens battled past Daria Gavrilova, 6-3, 6-3.

Halep won 14 of 21 second-serve return points and broke five times on 12 opportunities to win for the second time this season against 21-year-old Kontaveit. Halep has now reached the semifinals in three of the last five years at Rome, but never further.

In the lower half of the draw, No. 8-seeded Elina Svitolina notched her first career win over No.2-seeded Karolina Pliskova, 6-2, 7-6(9). The Ukrainian attacked Pliskova’s serve, winning 49 percent of overall return points and breaking five times on seven opportunities.

Svitolina is into her first Rome semifinal and will face either Garbiné Muguruza or Venus Williams next.


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