Summer Set tournament 2022: Osaka blasts past Petkovic, Halep edges Golubic to reach Melbourne semis
The former world number one, whose season was blighted by injury last year, overcame Switzerland's Viktorija Golubic 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena
Reigning Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka blasted her way past Germany's Andrea Petkovic to reach the semi-finals of the Melbourne Summer Set on Friday.
The Japanese star raced through the opening set in just 26 minutes, but was pushed harder in the second before beating Petkovic 6-1, 7-5 to set up a semi-final against third seeded Russian Veronika Kudermetova.
Kudermetova beat fellow Russian Anastasia Potapova 6-2, 4-6, 6-0 to book her place in the semi-finals.
Osaka was in imperious form in the first set, smashing winner after winner from both sides, racing to a 5-0 lead before Petkovic was at last able to hold serve.
When Osaka broke Petkovic in the opening game of the second set it looked like an early night for the four-time Grand Slam champion.
However, Petkovic lifted her game as Osaka's dropped slightly and the German fought back to skip away to a 4-2 lead.
But Osaka fought back and levelled the set, then broke at 5-5 before comfortably closing out the match.
Osaka said falling behind in the set to someone who was playing better than her was good preparation ahead of this month's Australian Open.
"This is the reason I came and played this tournament, to get myself in challenging situations," she said.
"I felt like I learned from her while I was playing the match.
"It was really cool the way she didn't give up at any point and I felt like I should do the same thing and see what happens."
Halep in semis
Earlier, two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep laboured into the last four of the Melbourne Summer Set Friday to stay on track for a final showdown with Naomi Osaka.
The former world number one, whose season was blighted by injury last year, overcame Switzerland's Viktorija Golubic 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena, but it was a hard slog.
"It was really difficult I have to admit," said Halep, who missed Roland-Garros, Wimbledon and the Olympics last year with a calf injury and ended her season early due to a knee issue.
"I didn't believe I could win this match but I fought till the end and I'm very proud of this."
She was in charge in the first set but her killer instinct deserted her in the second, broken when serving for 5-3 then again when serving for the match, racking up 23 unforced errors.
They traded breaks in the third set until Halep dug deep, saving four break points in the seventh game then breaking in the ninth to clock a tough win.
Now ranked 20, she will play Zheng Qin-wen in the last four after the 126th-ranked Chinese player upset Croatia's Ana Konjuh 7-6 (7/1), 7-6 (8/6).
Top seed Osaka faces veteran German Andrea Petkovic later Friday while Veronika Kudermetova takes on fellow Russian Anastasia Potapova in the other quarter-finals.
Halep was an Australian Open finalist in 2018 when she lost to the now-retired Caroline Wozniacki, and said having time on Rod Laver Arena Friday was great preparation.
"I'm really happy I have the chance to get used to this court and this atmosphere. It's nice to be back and to be actually fit even if I didn't play my best tennis today," she said.
There are two simultaneous WTA events being run as part of the Melbourne Summer Set.
At the other event, American Amanda Anisimova came through a tough test against Romania's Irina-Camelia Begu 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 to set up a last-four clash against 26th-ranked Russian Daria Kasatkina who beat Spain's Nuria Parrizas Diaz 7-5, 6-1.
In the other quarter-finals, American Ann Li faces Russian Kamilla Rakhimova and Swiss teenager Clara Tauson is up against Belarus' Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
Carlos Alcaraz jumped three places to World No 6 in the ATP Rankings after winning the title in Madrid.
Alexander Zverev succumbed in 62 minutes to Carlos Alcaraz but was unhappy that on the previous two nights he had been last on court.
From fitness to power, table tennis star G Sathiyan is sweating it out on various fronts to be a better version of himself.