Simona Halep on Friday finally got a welcome break on court, with the top seed moving through in straight sets into the semi-finals of the Prague Open.
The Romanian world No.2 who will skip the US Open due to COVID-19 tensions, needed three sets to get through her first two matches as she played for the first time since winning the Dubai title in late February.
Halep reached the final four on the Czech clay with a dismissal of 174th-ranked Polish lucky loser Magdalena Frech, 6-2, 6-0; the Romanian has now won seven straight matches since the Australian Open.
“The whole game was better today,” the winner said. “I’m happy that I can play better and better day by day. It was a good one and I’ll take it.
“It was not easy also for her, as she played a tough match yesterday. I hit the ball stronger, I opened the court better and I finished some drive volleys.
“It was good because the ball was coming a little bit softer than yesterday so I just had to go there and be aggressive.
“I’m here just to give my best, to fight until the end and to try to win the match.”
Halep will aim for a spot in the final when she faces Spaniard Sara Torribes Tormo, ranked 84th.
Former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard was knocked out by third seed Elise Mertens for a hard-fought 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 result.
No. 330 Bouchard, a tournament wild card hit 33 winners and 30 unforced errors.
The Canadian fought for just over two hours before going down; Mertens moved into a Saturday match with Kristyna Pliskova, who advanced when opponent Ana Bogdan retired in the opening set.
“She hit the ball pretty well today, she made me run a lot. Her serve is tough to return. All credit to her for making me have a tough match. In the end, it was a mental game,” Mertens said.