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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The terre battue was a bleak streak as Simona Halep gazed at the ground staring down a 6-3, 5-1 deficit to an oppressive Elina Svitolina.

Bullied around the court, Halep dug in with defiance and pulled off a rousing Roland Garros comeback.

Watch: Thiem Dismisses Defending Champion Djokovic

Halep denied a match point in the tie break roaring back to win 11 of the last 12 games stunning Svitolina, 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-0, to surge into her second Roland Garros semifinal in the last three years.

The 2014 French Open finalist will play 2016 US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova for a trip to Saturday’s title match.

The second-seeded Pliskova struck eight aces and saved two of three break points knocking out the last Frenchwoman standing, Caroline Garcia, 7-6 (3), 6-4, in one hour, 51 minutes.

Pliskova, who arrived in Paris armed with just two career French Open wins, has made the semifinals at two of her last three Grand Slam tournaments after failing to survive the third round in 17 prior major appearances.

Empowered by a WTA-best four titles this season, Svitolina controlled the court as if she was playing in her backyard for nearly two sets.

Firing her forehand with impunity, the 22-year-old Ukrainian hit Halep into obscure areas of the court with some of most dynamic shotmaking of the season.
Svitolina stormed out to a 5-0 lead after 25 minutes pinning the Romanian behind the baseline. Halep worked through a five-minute hold to finally stop the shutout, eventually creeping to 3-5.

Regaining control, Svitolina closed out the 43-minute opener on the strength of 13 winners compared to four for her opponent.

Continuing the onslaught, the fifth seed broke to start the second set. Svitolina showed finishing power Halep lacked often stepping inside the baseline to crunch point-ending forehands with menace.

Then came the jitters.

Twice, Svitolina served for the match and twice Halep hung tough breaking.

Down love-30 in the ninth game, Halep defended with vigor, ran with determination and salvaged a crucial hold for 4-5.

The forehand that had been so fearsome throughout the match, failed Svitolina at crunch time. Three straight forehand errors, including a launched forehand long, put her into a triple break point hole. Two points later, Halep hammered a forehand crosscourt that singed the edge of the sideline breaking with a clenched fist for 5-all.

Still, Halep was pressured to deuce in the 11th game. She slid a forehand winner down the line for ad-in then caught a break when Svitolina’s backhand caught the top of the tape—Halep’s fifth straight game gave her a 6-5 lead.

Confronting triple set point, Svitolina stood tall fighting of all three set points.

Working her way forward, Halep hopped into a backhand swing volley finishing with a flourish for a fourth set point.

In a crackling 23-shot rally—the most riveting exchange of the match to that point—Svitolina swept a forehand pass crosscourt erasing a fourth set point and holding from love-40 down to force the tie break.

Holding a 4-2 tie break lead Svitolina lost her backhand. Three consecutive backhand errors handed Halep a 5-4 lead.

Shaking it off, Svitolina lashed an inside-out forehand for match point at 6-5.

The feisty Halep wasn’t done.

A booming forehand set up a backhand down the line to deny match point. When Svitolina missed a diagonal forehand wide, Halep had set point.

A running forehand clipped the top of the tape and dribbled over to her opponent’s side as Halep scraped out a dramatic second set.

A shattered Svitolina never recovered.

Steamrolling through the final set, Halep won 11 of 12 first-serve points in the decider picking apart her dejected opponent still ruing opportunities lost.

Halep stung her second ace ending an inspired two hour, six-minute comeback in style.


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