Doha, Feb 15: Simona Halep conjured up a magnificent final-set fightback to beat Elina Svitolina in a classic Qatar Open semi-final on Friday.
Top seed Halep looked to be on her way out in Doha when she trailed 4-1 in the final set but won five games in a row to win a pulsating contest 6-3 3-6 6-4.
The French Open champion and the fourth seed struck 54 winners between them in an absorbing contest that swung one way and the other, before Halep pulled herself off the ropes to set up a decider against Angelique Kerber or Elise Mertens.
Halep, playing her first tournament with Thierry Van Cleemput as coach, had lost her three previous meetings with Svitolina but ended that sequence with a typically tenacious and stylish performance.
Halep - who will rise to number two in the rankings on Monday - struck the first blow by breaking to take a 2-1 lead with a powerful forehand winner after showing great defence as the two served up high-quality rallies from the off.
There was no way back for Svitolina in a first set that she ended with a double fault, but the WTA Finals champion moved to another level in the second set, claiming her first break with a rasping forehand winner.
A pumped-up Svitolina mixed sublime winners - particularly off her backhand - with wild unforced errors, but wrapped up the second set when Halep thrashed a forehand beyond the baseline under pressure.
The former world number one sent a forehand into the net to go 2-0 down after another ferocious backhand winner from Svitolina, who looked to have one foot in the final when she opened up a 4-1 lead.
Back came the tenacious Halep, though, unleashing majestic winners and showing her incredible retrieval skills as she roared back to reach her first final of the season.