Halep stays on course in Madrid

Simona Halep moved one step close to the Mutua Madrid Open title on Thursday, defeating her compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3, 0-6, 6-1 in the quarter-finals.

Following widespread carnage amongst the top seeds this week, Halep is the only top 10 player remaining in the women's draw.

A runner-up in Madrid two years ago, the Romanian is now heavily favoured to take the title, although her match against Begu was marred by some inconsistency.

Begu definitely had her chances in the first set, but failed to capitalise on the openings she created, instead allowing Halep to claim the decisive breaks and go one set up.

There were no such problems in the second set, however. In contrast to the first, Begu made just one error throughout, stunning her opponent with three successive breaks of serve.

It needed a strong response, and Halep was able to provide it, regaining her lost momentum with an early break before all but sealing the deal with another break a few games later.

"It wasn't my best day," Halep admitted. "Anyway, if I won means that I played good tennis. I'm confident it was a good match for me.

"I take it like a positive one, even if I gave that second set easy. I was there until the end, and I'm glad that I could control myself until the end."

Halep moves on to face the winners of the match between Sam Stosur and Patricia Maria Tig.

The second semi-final sees American Louisa Chirico take on Slovakia's Domonika Cibulkova.

Chirico defeated Australian Daria Gavrilova 7-6 (7-1), 6-2, while Cibulkova defeated Sorana Cirstea 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.