Pliskova rallies to reach Open quarter-finals

Roger Federer Australian Open Tomas Berdych

Roger Federer Australian Open Tomas Berdych

Simona Halep won nine games in a row to breeze past Karolina Pliskova and set up a mouthwatering Australian Open semi-final against former champion Angelique Kerber.

Making a mockery of the 21st seeding she landed after a miserable 2017, the former world number one outplayed Keys in nearly every facet of the 51-minute match to seal a semi-final date with Simona Halep or Karolina Pliskova.

Halep fell 3-0 behind to No 6 seed Karolina Pliskova, who had a chance to establish a 4-0 lead with a double break. "She is hitting the ball so hard and I was just trying from the beginning, I played the whole week just going out there playing my game and enjoying it", Kerber said.

Mertens was so off the radar at the start of this tournament that she wasn't even cited as one of those unsafe unseeded players called a "floater".

Halep, still looking for her first grand slam title, was under the cosh in the opening stages of the match as 72nd-ranked Osaka blazed away to set up numerous break points.

The victor of this match would next meet either Simona Halep, the #1 seed, or Karolina Pliskova, seeded #6, in the semifinals.

Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber will meet in the 2018 Australian Open semi-final after they each booked their places to the last four on Wednesday.

It has been quite a return to form for Kerber in Australia this year after she broke a 27-tournament title drought going back to her 2016 U.S. Open triumph in the Sydney International warm-up.

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Keys, who had also made easy work of her opponents in the rounds prior was no match for Kerber's focused game.

Kerber said she was enjoying life and tennis again after a torrid 2017 that she began on top of the rankings and ended outside the top 20.

"It's always tough to play against Madison", said Kerber, who has now won seven of eight matches against Keys. "I just pray she's not in my draw next time".

"She knows what to say in those moments to calm me down or get me going".

"She definitely played...more aggressive than any other time I have played against her", the American said. I think the only thing has changed is that I learned a lot, a lot of experience from a year ago.

Kerber lost that attacking drive during her crisis of confidence previous year, but Halep never got the chance to test her. She is in action later today at the Australian Open. "Now I'm just trying to play everything I have and to play the best to win it". Now that long-deferred Grand Slam title seems tantalizingly within grasp for this more mature, wiser competitor.

"I think this was a great match".

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